Abilene council passes ordinance aimed at cracking down on precious metal thieves

POSTED: 12:28 PM Dec 06 2012   UPDATED: 7:56 PM Dec 06 2012
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ABILENE, Texas -

The Abilene City Council narrowly passed a controversial ordinance Thursday to require scrap metal businesses to keep track of the metals they buy through the Leads Online program.  

The ordinance is aimed at helping the Abilene Police Department crack down on crooks selling precious metals.  

Copper prices are up significantly – and that's increased the number of thieves who steal anything made out of it.

The council voted four - three in favor of the ordinance, which requires buyers to hold onto their items for seven days, but some business owners weren't pleased with the decision.

"I'm disappointed," co-owner of Abilene Gold Exchange Marcus Cass said. "You know, we're going above and beyond what the state requires. They don't require a hold period at all."

Council members tried to compromise with all parties.

"I understand your side and I also understand the police chiefs side," Councilman Joe Spano said.

Councilman Williams suggested lowering the number of days police wanted so owners wouldn't lose business.

Chief Standridge said he can work with seven days, but not any less than that.

During October, the council tabled the ordinance after metal business owners complained it was too broad and costly for them.    

Police Chief Stan Standridge has said his department will have more luck tracking down precious metal thieves if business owners keep better track of who they're buying those materials from.

After the October meeting, business owners met with the police department to revise parts of the ordinance. As written, the ordinance establishes a fee schedule for metal buyers and give them access to the Leads Online program free of cost.