New Kansas City ordinance hopes to strip thieves of easy cash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City ordinance to crack down on illegal towing and cash payouts for cars and copper could soon be on the books.

The Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee met Wednesday to get community input on how to best implement the new codes.

City resident Deborah White-Sanchez has seen first hand how the chase of easy money has impacted her neighborhood.

"The vacant housing feeds into the crime, it feed into the meth epidemic, it feeds into the drug epidemic, because the people are living in the houses, squatting in the houses, they call them "abandon-miniums," but they are also breaking into other houses in the community.

Crooks breaking into homes to strip the copper or stealing cars or car parts to sell off for quick cash.

"It feels like being in a domestic violence situation when you finally go to somebody and they tell you 'I`m going to help set you free.` you don`t know what it looks like but you know somebody is going to try to help you do something," said White-Sanchez.

Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner who is the sponsor of a stronger city ordinance aimed at disincentivizing thieves chasing fast cash.

"The idea that you can get untraceable, easy money is the issue we`re trying to deal with in this ordinance because most wire you don`t know where it comes from, most copper you don`t know where it comes from which makes it a very inviting target."

Salvador Lopez of the Guadalupe Center supports the proposed ordinance after he said four thieves caused over $50,000 in damage after breaking in and stripping copper from the basement.

"This would help prevent those who are coming in, like these thefts, and stealing then going to places where they are able to sell for cash and not have any type of paper trail of who they are selling to," said Lopez.

The ordinance will also put new restrictions on illegal towing as well as change the way scrapyards buy used cars and pay those that bring them in. All-N-1 Auto Parts owner Dennis Roberts fears what would happen to businesses such as his.

"If this law went into effect it would totally change what we do. We would not have near as many cars, it would cause prices to go up for customers on product because we`d have to spend more on other cars, and probably cost jobs."

Over the next four weeks Wagner and others will work on finalizing the ordinance to help folks like White-Sanchez sleep a bit easier at night.

"At the end of the day, we know that easy money is what is causing a lot of these issues across the city and causing a lot of the unintended consequence of crime and other things that our neighborhoods are having to experience," said Wagner.