District attorney’s effort targets copper thieves

The district attorney is also asking state lawmakers to pass a similar law.



NEW CASTLE, Pa. — With copper theft being an ongoing problem, Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo wants to make it easier to prosecute the thieves.

Bongivengo approached Lawrence County commissioners on Tuesday about passing a law that would require scrap dealers to register with the county sheriff and require they take certain information from sellers.

Bongivengo said it would be patterned after a precious-metals law that requires pawn shops to register similar information.

“It has been an invaluable tool in tracking down stolen property,” he said.

Bongivengo said he would like the law to cover copper, bronze and aluminum, with copper being the most prevalent problem right now.

“It’s bad. If there’s an empty house, it gets raided,” he said.

The district attorney noted that in the last year the copper pipes were stripped by thieves from the former county nursing home, Hill View Manor, and that more than 300 bronze flag holders were stolen from veterans’ graves around the county.

Bongivengo noted that he has also contacted state lawmakers about passing a state version of the law. He worries that thieves will just take their copper and other metals to other counties if it becomes too difficult to sell here.

Commissioners said they would refer the matter to the county solicitor. Commissioner Steve Craig says he favors the plan.

“If people don’t have any place to sell what they steal, then the opportunity to steal won’t be there,” he said.

In other business, Commissioner Dan Vogler put together a list of regional agencies and groups that he would like to work together in the helping the development in and around the planned racetrack and casino in Mahoning Township. Among those on his list are elected officials from townships affected including Coitsville in Ohio. He’s also included farm groups and social service agencies that will see an impact by the development.

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