Metal Theft Reform

Contributed by Association County Commissioners of Georgia

During the 2012 legislative session, the General Assembly passed a comprehensive metal theft reform bill designed to combat this serious problem. One of the requirements of the legislation is that all secondary metal recyclers register with the sheriff’s office in each county in which they do business on an annual basis. Additionally, the bill requires the establishment of a statewide database of the registered recyclers that is searchable by all law enforcement.

While the law specified that the statewide database be maintained “in collaboration” with the Secretary of State’s Office, the bill did not actually establish a database or provide a mechanism for doing so at the state level. However, the bill does allow the sheriff to charge each metals recycler a registration fee of up to $200.00 on an annual basis. Those fee revenues will go to the county general fund presumably to underwrite the cost of the creating and maintaining the statewide database.

ACCG has met with the Georgia Sheriffs Association (GSA) to work on a solution for establishing the database required by law. The proposed solution includes the following points:

  • The statewide database will be created, housed and maintained at GSA and will be accessible by all law enforcement within the state.
  • The Secretary of State’s Office will provide a link to the GSA database through their website.
  • Each sheriff will charge the full $200 annual registration fee.
  • Counties may enter into an agreement with the GSA on an annual basis to remit $100 of the $200 fee to the GSA to defray the cost of the creation and maintenance of the database. This fee will be revisited on an annual basis to ensure that the revenues collected approximate the actual cost of maintenance of the database. ACCG is drafting a sample memorandum of understanding or subscription agreement for use by the counties and the sheriffs.
  • The actual registration occurs at the county level. Normally that will be in the sheriff’s office. However, the sheriffs have the discretion to enter into an agreement with their county commissioners to delegate the responsibility for registering metals recyclers to the county police department, business license office, etc

A detailed information sheet and FAQ’s provide more information.