Kansas City committee approves new regulations of tow operators, scrap metal sales

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The public safety committee approved a plan to stop rogue tow operators and prevent older cars from being stolen and sold as scrap.

The proposed ordinance is designed to make it easier for police to arrest and prosecute people for problems that generate a lot of complaints in Kansas City.

There are three areas of focus: New regulations to identify tow operators. The city wants to stop incidents that seem to make news every year, where visitors have their vehicles towed under questionable circumstances and must fork over thousands of dollars to get their property back.

Kansas City continues to see vacant homes stripped of copper and other metals, which makes rehabbing those houses cost prohibitive. The proposal would eliminate walk-in sales, so that anyone who sells scrap would be identified by their vehicle and may be paid by check instead of cash.

And finally, there's a growing problem with 10-year-old vehicles being stolen and sold for scrap. The proposed ordinance would better identify anyone who tries to cash in by selling a stolen car.

"There's all kinds of problems by bad actors in the industries," said Maj. Mark Folsom, commander of the police property crimes division. "What we are trying to do is tighten some things up, so we can make arrests and have successful prosecutions. As well as deterring theft of catalytic converters, which is fairly common anymore. People climb under a car, steal a converter and take off."

Catalytic converters contain platinum, a precious metal that thieves sell to recyclers and scrap dealers.

City leaders worked with neighborhood groups and scrap recyclers to develop the provisions. Already, some scrap dealers are refusing walk-in sales, and neighborhood leaders say they've noticed a drop in home break-ins and reports of stolen property.

The measure will go before the full city council next week.

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