Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Scrap-metal thefts in Syracuse are on the rise. Police say they’re up 50 percent.
The thieves are stealing from schools, bridges, and even veterans’ graves.
A new proposed Federal law, however, may help crack down on the problem.
One of the most brazen cases of scrap metal theft in Syracuse occurred when thieves lifted a 260 pound steal block from the Bear Street Bridge
, putting drivers at risk, holding up construction, and costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.
“That threatens the safety of local families and school children, first responders…why has it happened? Because the price has skyrocketed,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, who visited Syracuse on Thursday.
Police say that crooks have torn through 75 percent of the vacant homes in Syracuse looking for scrap metal.
A couple of weeks ago, thieves stole copper piping from Clary Middle School, causing thousands of dollars in damage to the air-conditioning system.
“This is a very big problem for us. It's something we are monitoring very closely, something we are directing efforts toward...this is a huge problem for us,” said Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler.
Senator Chuck Schumer is now pushing for what he calls an ironclad partnership with police.
He wants to make it a Federal crime to steal metal from critical infrastructure and enforce stronger punishments for criminals.
“That's what we look for in law enforcement, tools for our toolbox to help us enforce the laws,” Fowler said.
As part of the proposed law, recyclers would have to keep better records for metal purchasers and wouldn’t be able to pay more than $100 in cash. If they’re paying out more money, they would need to use a check.