by PAUL GEORGE
The Nevada Senate Judiciary Committee met Monday to hear testimony about a bill that would increase penalties for the theft of scrap metal from municipal and private property.
If passed, SB37 would make the payment of restitution mandatory for anyone convicted of removing, damaging or destroying any property maintained by state or local governments for the purpose of obtaining scrap metal. Additionally, the bill would require the convicted person to perform community service.
Wes Henderson, executive director of the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities, testified before the committee.
“The theft of scrap metal and other utility property are problems that continue to grow,” Henderson says. “These actions create both a fiscal impact on the local governments [and] affect the health, safety and quality of life of the residents.”
Senator Mark Hutchinson asked Henderson why private property was not included. Henderson responded that he had no problem with private property being included in the bill.
Megan Salcido, government affairs coordinator for the City of Reno testified that theft for sheet metal cost the city $103,000 during the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Near the end of the session, legislative counsel Nicolas Anthony said he believed section two of the bill is broad enough to include theft of public or private property.
Although there are currently laws making this type of theft illegal, punishment has been left to judges, Salcido said after the session. SB37 would set mandatory restitutions.
“It is a fairly significant issue for us,” says Cadence Matijevich, City of Reno’s assistant city manager. “Because, in addition to the monetary losses, we experience damage to our facilities that could potentially put some facilities out of use for a short period or, potentially, a long period of time.”