UNION COUNTY — It’s still free, but a permit to transport or sell non-ferrous metal will now be for two years instead of 48 hours or 12 months.
In 2011, Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law the Copper Theft Act which provided for the increased regulation and oversight of the transport, sale and purchase of nonferrous metals and to help local law enforcement crack down on metal thefts.
Non-ferrous metals are metals that do not contain significant quantities of iron or steel.
The act required anyone wanting to transport or sell nonferrous metal to a scrap metal dealer to first obtain a permit from their local sheriff’s office. The law gave persons wanting to transport or sell nonferrous metal the option of getting either a 48-hour permit or a 12-month permit. A person could get the 48-hour permit by calling the sheriff’s office, but could only get two of them a year. The Union County Sheriff’s Office was already providing 48-hour permits before the law went into effect.
For the 12-month permit, however, a person had to go to the sheriff’s office and bring their driver’s license or other identification along with their registration.
That’s where things stood until Sunday when changes in the law took effect.
In statement on the changes in the law, the Union County Sheriff’s Office announced the 48-hour permit and 12-month permit options have been eliminated and that persons wanting to transport or sell non-ferrous metal must instead get a two-year permit. As with the 12-month permit, persons wanting a two-year permit will have to apply for one in person at the sheriff’s office and present a valid photo identification such as a driver’s license, military ID or South Carolina ID.
As in the case of the 48-hour and 12-month permits, there is no charge for the two-year permit. However, a $10 fee will be assessed for any any lost or destroyed permits.
Under the law, any person who wants to transport or sell nonferrous metals, primarily copper, would have to have a permit. A permit is valid statewide and expires on the person’s birth date on the second calendar year after the permit is issued.
Also, permits are now required for anyone who transports lead batteries and propane gas tanks to a scrap metal recycler. Permits are also required if someone is transporting any type of nonferrous can
Prior to the law taking effect in 2011, a person had to get a permit if they were trying to transport or sell 25 pounds or more of nonferrous metal. This was lowered to 10 pounds when the law went into effect in June of that year. The new law, however, requires a permit for any amount of nonferrous metal to be transported or sold.
Any person that has been convicted of a nonferrous metal violation will not be issued a permit.
The law also requires individuals or businesses who plan to purchase nonferrous metals to get a two-year permit from their local sheriff’s office. The permits cost $200 and must be renewed every two years. It also forbids recyclers to purchase nonferrous metals from a person unless the seller presents their two-year permit.
The law also sets the following penalties for violators:
• First offense, a $200 fine or 30 days in jail
• Second offense, a $500 fine or one year in prison or both
• Third or subsequent offenses, a $1,000 fine or three years in prison or both.
The law also states that if a person transports nonferrous metals they know to be stolen they can be fined an amount to be determined by the court and/or sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. This applies to those who, while they may not have actually stolen the metal, nevertheless knew it was stolen but transported it for sale anyway rather than contacting law enforcement. It also applies to persons who are found to be not only in possession of stolen metal, but also fake permits.
Prior to Sunday, a person wanting to sell a motor vehicle to a scrapyard could only do so if it was eight years old or older. As of Sunday, the vehicle must be 12 years old or older and inoperable. If the vehicle is still operable, the owner must bring the title and a magistrate’s bill of sale or affidavit from the DMV.
If anyone has any questions or concerns about the law changes, contact Sheriff David Taylor or Investigator Scott Coffer at 864-429-1612.