Florida's Scrap Metal Laws


Thieves have become brazen. They have discovered that money can be made by selling stolen metal as scrap. Some of the metal stolen includes electrical copper wires, cast iron manhole covers and even aluminum siding stolen from the sides of houses. In an effort to stop thieves from endangering society, the state of Florida has passed a strict scrap metal law, ensuring that the metal was obtained by legitimate means and not by thievery.

Buyer Concerns

  • The scrap metal law, as reported by Kate Gallagher of "The Independent Florida Alligator Newspaper" in 2008, mandates that buyers of scrap metal maintain records of all sellers. This includes obtaining the seller's personal information, such as photocopying the driver's license. Also, a thumbprint of the seller must be obtained. This allows law enforcement to track down the seller, in case the scrap was indeed stolen.

Seller Concerns

  • Sellers must prove that the scrap was obtained by legitimate means. For example, a demolition company was contracted to tear down a building. As part of the contract, the company is allowed to keep the scrap wiring. Written proof of the transaction must be kept. Another part of the seller's concern is that personally identifiable information must be presented to the recycling facility. Furthermore, the seller must give a thumbprint to the facility.

Inspection Permitted

  • Law enforcement can enter a facility when open, without a specific search warrant. In essence, this is a "standing warrant" order. This is done so law enforcement can arrive unannounced and inspect the facility's records. Law enforcement is trained to spot discrepancies and can investigate any abnormalities further.


  • Municipalities enforce the law, and penalties are severe. It is a felony to knowingly buy or sell stolen metal, and thieves or buyers will be criminally prosecuted. Commissioners of Miami's Dade County, in March of 2011, discussed raising the penalties from misdemeanors to felonies, based upon the transaction amounts and the circumstances involved.


  • Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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