CLEVELAND - One of several bills signed into law by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) Tuesday aims to crack down on scrap metal theft.
The new law requires scrap metal dealers to photograph of every person selling scrap metal, and keep the photo as part of the sales record.
A growing problem since the housing bust, thieves have targeted vacant homes in Cleveland and other communities throughout northeast Ohio and the state.
Earlier this month, scrap metal thieves hit a Lorain Avenue business under renovation and took nearly everything, including two brand new furnaces, air conditioning units, several appliances, piping and electrical wiring.
Owner Aaron Pearl told NewsChannel5's Troubleshooter Joe Pagonakis he believed increasing accountability for what is being brought into local scrap yards would help reduce metal theft.
"If you can just gut a building, show up at a scrap yard, and know that you're going to get paid without any scrutiny, then there is no disincentive in doing so," Pearl said.
The new law defines scrap metal dealers as "the owner or operator of a business that purchases or receives scrap metal for the purpose of sorting, grading, and shipping metals to third parties for direct or indirect melting into new products."
The inner-city is not the only place scrap metal thieves target.
An elderly Lorain County man reported earlier this month that nearly a ton of steel and scrap metal was stolen from his farm in Eaton Township.
And within the last year, NewsChannel5 has reported on scrap metal thefts in Medina, Wayne and Stark counties.
New laws do not always stop criminals, or make theft any easier on victims. To protect yourself, experts advise always locking garages and sheds that store tools and ladders. Also, keep plants around your gutters and downspouts trimmed so neighbors can notice if there are any thieves at work. Also, scrap metal thieves have yanked out catalytic converters out of cars, so always try to park in a garage or well-lit area.
Thieves can get more than $100 for the coils they take from your air conditioner, but it can cost you thousands of dollars to fix the damage. For specific tips on protecting your cooling system, go here: http://on.wews.com/MQBoTZ