Legality Of Scrapping Metal

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Collecting Scrap That Has Been Thrown Out

Scrap Metal collection is a great idea; But then again, so are a lot of things. It doesn’t, however, mean any of them are legal. So, what does law have in store for those who are scrapping waste picked from other’s garbage? Could The police one day pop out from around the corner and give you a ticket. Or worse?

For hundreds of years, waste materials have been considered property of the public. This precedent dates back to the oldest of laws in Europe and Native American practices in North America. To quote my neighbor’s retort, “Yeah, so were public executions, that doesn’t mean they should be legal today…What’s your point?”

Well, the difference between this law and any of our other archaic laws is that this one doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights, nor is it inhumane. Now, if you use people’s garbage to do immoral things, those immoral things should and are (usually) already illegal. For example, taking someone’s confidential credit card information or stealing their identity would be completely illegal. The fact that you picked that information from the garbage didn’t make it a crime. Even if it were illegal to dumpster dive, would that stop somebody who is trying to steal that information? Would it stop somebody who is looking for food?

As a scrapper, you aren’t snooping around in someone’s garbage to steal their identity; you are harvesting clearly abandoned scrap metal. There has never been, nor ever will be, anything immoral about picking up scrap metal and keeping it out of landfills.

There is a common misconception that scrapping is keeping money out of the pockets of our government, or raising taxes, or some other crazy lie. I don’t know how that started, I don’t know why it started, but I bet it is because of some tight-ass, paranoia-stricken delusion-oids. If you are one who is afraid of people salvaging your scrap metal, why?

None the less, local laws/ordinances make it a ticket-able offense to take scrap metal from the trash. I don’t know how that helps much of anything. People can simply ask homeowners for permission before they pick things up to scrap them. All the law is doing is drawing attention to the fact that people are scrapping, not stifling it. It’s dumb.

When you take your trash to the curb, you are placing it in the public domain. It is becoming public property only when it is sitting on the government-owned fringe property waiting for the city’s publicly contracted waste management service to pick it up. If your garbage has not been put to the street, if you have a private dumpster that is locked, or if your have set your scrap in a green recycling bin then nobody should be messing with it without permission. If somebody does, then you can call the police.

The precedent of legal trash picking was confirmed by the United States Congress in the famous California v. Greenwood case.

 Legality Of Scrapping Metal

Keeping Your Truck Street Legal
As a scrapper one thing to be careful of is letting your truck “overflow” with garbage. An expensive way to solve this problem is to put on a truck bed cap, or start driving a van. An easy way to solve this problem is to not drive on main roads without first strapping all of your junk down with some simple ratchet straps (pictured on left).

 

 

 

 

Filing Your Taxes

For more info on filing taxes for scrap metal, please check out there two articles:
For Info on the need for filing 1099s for your customers. Also see more here.

 

Please Leave A Comment! Happy Scrapping!

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike G. January 11, 2012 at 4:17 am

I live in Michigan.
….And I am a “scrapper”.
A rather considerate one may I say.
On trash night,I go up and down local side streets and collect metalic things of value.
And let people know who might see me do it that I am doing just that,and I wont make a mess of their trash,
and I am just trying to stay off the welfare line.
I dont break freon coils either,or treaspass into abandoned buildings or houses and…..or anything else that give scrappers a bad name.
The question I am asking is :
Do citys have the right to make scrapping illegal,and to levy a 500 fine,confiscate your vehicle,and scrap…..despite the california vs greenwood case?
Or is it just alot of hot air they’re blowing?
I have been avoiding 3 citys because of this supposed anti-scrap ordinance.
Thats a hell of a lot of potential money that I am being denied. A answer to my delema and your thoughts
would be greatly appreciated. Please dont hesitate to email me. Regards: Mike G.

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 11, 2012 at 4:42 am

Thanks for your question, Mike.

Unfortunately, yes. It is possible for cities to pass ordinances to make it against the law, or “fineable”. I cannot tell you if this is the case in your area, but it doesn’t happen all that often. I would suggest calling the waste management department and asking them, or if you don’t have a problem with it, calling the police department directly.

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Tammy September 23, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Hello,how are you doing? I read your post here about scrapping.I am just getting into doing it.Barely surving,this terrible economy we have all been threwn into,just trying to make enough to pay my bills,and get the neccessities,maybe afford to cook a couple good meals a week.
I would like to know more about scapping,if you could please ,if you dont mind helping me,by just answering a couple questions for me,please.You mentioned there are a few cities you avoid,could you tell me which ones they are? I live in Roseville,MI. Could you also,please,tell me which are the best cities to go scrapping in?
Hope to hear from you soon,please..I need help with this.I dont usaly go to my gmail,but I will check to see if you emailed me back,or,if you have a facebook..PLEASE look me up,we could talk there.I check in on there usaly daily,to keep in touch with my sons,and family,as I have no phone at this time.
Well..hoping to hear from you soon,take care and,always good luck :-}
Tammy

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Dave April 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Scrapping metal that is obviously trash on the side of the road should be ok, but it’s kind of common sense if you’re going around scrapping metal on the side of the road than you’re most likely planning/thinking of, or already have trespassed on property to salvage metal that doesn’t belong to you. It’s too bad a few people can ruin something for everyone, but thats life.

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Ryan April 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I am a rookie scrapper and i just started. My friend and his dad have been doing it for quite some time now and i think its a good hobby to have, and its profitable. but i just wanted to know what your stance is on scrapping by the railroad. i know it is highly frowned upon and the cops can get called but is there a way to get around it by possibly cutting the plates and spikes into smaller pieces so they arent as noticeable? i think its stupid that you cant scrap the railroad because those pieces just lay there and the ones we found the other day we had to dig them up because the metal detector found them, so obviously they have been there for quite some time. so i dont think those pieces should be a reason to get a ticket.
Please let me know your stance and the possible dangers of getting caught.

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

No, I do not in any way, shape or form suggest you scrap RR property without signed/written authorization or contractual property rights. You will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and it will be for as long as possible. The RR companies are very touchy about their scrap, and they will make an example out of you if they have a chance; the rising price of scrap is causing more people to steal scrap metal, so if the railroad catches you, they will try their best to use you as a tool to defer other thieves.

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Adam September 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm

well RR scrapping isn’t totally illegal me and my friend walk up and down an old track that only has spike and plate removers go on it and we find a lot of old spikes loose or laying round so we just have fun with that btw never got busted even know theres a street right next to it.

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm

It doesn’t matter if you have never been caught; it’s still illegal.

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John October 1, 2012 at 5:08 am

RR’s have their own set of laws and their own Federal Police force, (yes they are known as the Rail Road Police) They can (and WILL) arrest you.
It is a Federal crime to walk on the tracks. (Yes we have all done it.)
It is a Federal crime to put pennies or any other obstruction on a railroad track.
It is a Federal crime to in any way shape or form mess with the tracks or the right of way of the tracks, which if I am not mistaken extends 60ft either side of the tracks. Messing with the tracks would include pulling up the spikes. (By the way, since RR spikes are only made for RR’s they are considered the property of the RR unless YOU can PROVE that you have the legal right to be in possession of said spikes. Meaning, [in case it has been missed] if you get pulled over and they find spike/s amongst the scrap or they know you are a scrapper, your profit margins will be shot all to hell.
I have walked on the tracks, have a RR spike, put pennies on the tracks, but I was a kid and lived in the sticks. The RR Police in Detroit, Flint and Pontiac will arrest you for walking on the tracks and the city cops might. (Well not in Detroit as that would require them to work.)

JASON November 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Yes, in order to scrap RR property, you must have authorization from them. It is a federal offense to sell RR property. All railroad property is owned by the federal government. It will be very unlikely the railroad companies will give scrappers permission to sell it. The private railroad companies have their business however the land the tracks are on are leased by the government. I work in the scrap industry as a buyer with a prominent company. The law eliminates people from going onto the railroads property and stealing their scrap and/or prevents anyone going up and down the tracks in an attempt to torch out the tracks to sell. If you were to cut up the pieces to try and sell is fraud and may be handled as such. I would not recommend it.

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Monica June 6, 2012 at 3:27 am

My boyfriend and I recently went metal detecting in an old field and found old railroad steel, rails, and spikes. We maybe found about 7 pieces and you can tell they have been in the ground for years. I was wanting to know if this was illegal. And if its not are we allowed to scrap the metal? I dont see how it would be a problem if its been unused for who knows how long and its not by a railroad station.

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MplsKarl August 6, 2012 at 3:40 am

“There is a common misconception that scrapping is keeping money out of the pockets of our government, or raising taxes, or some other crazy lie.”

I live in Minneapolis, MN. There is a law/ordinance that makes it illegal to remove items destined for the city’s recycling program. The reason is that people will go down the alley the night before recycling pickup and collect as many aluminum cans as possible and cash them in themselves. The aluminum is the only thing that really makes any serious money for the recycling program, so it basically funds the whole program. So in this scenario, metal thieves really are choking the funding for the recycling program, requiring a larger pie slice to come from taxes.

I completely recognize that this is metal theft, far removed from honest scrapping, but I bring it up because many people often lump scrapping and thefting in the same broad category. If someone is telling you that you’re cheating your local government or taxpayers in some way, explain this difference to them so they better differentiate between legit scrapping and outright lazy thefting. The most notorious thief in my neighborhood is an older lady on a motorized shopping scooter. I see her in the alley now and then with bags and bags of cans strapped to the scooter and in her lap, driving from one bin to the next. I call the cops on her every time. As much as the city is motivated to catch these people (due to the financial reason explained above), there are always plenty of more pressing needs for the police to be responding to.

Like I assume is the case in any city, we also have problems with people slicing condensers out of dehumidifiers and air conditioners and fridges left by the alley for solid waste to collect. And if you don’t know why this is such a horrible thing to have happening, read up on the ozone layer depletion. Every chlorine atom that reaches the stratosphere (caused by CFCs and many refrigerants) can single-handedly destroy tens of thousands of ozone molecules, which require decades to very slowly regenerate. Not a bad thing, as long as you’re in the business of selling sunscreen…

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ScrapMetalJunkie August 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm

To be honest, the recycling programs in most cities are not very sustainable because they charge to haul away items they should be paying you for, like old appliances and other metal items. It takes roughly 35 aluminum cans to make $1 of aluminum. Even if that lady is stealing 200 aluminum cans, she’s only getting a few dollars for them. An old stove, for example, is worth more like $10 for it’s metal value, and these things aren’t even collected by most city’s standard recycling programs!

I have and always will be a agent acting against metal theft, and I hope you really do see the difference between scrapping and metal theft. Thanks for the comment.

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lashana October 11, 2012 at 2:02 am

I Was wondering is it ilegal to get scrap iron and metel from the alleys

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm

You cannot scrap stolen metal, but discarded metal trash is usually fair game. What type of alley is it? Is it garbage? Do you have/need permission? These are all factors in the legality of collecting metal scrap.

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peggy October 14, 2012 at 1:28 am

i live in jacksonville,florida and scrap every day .i used to give money for old a/c units.i was told by the “scrap police ” it was illegal ‘FELONY” have you ever heard of this?

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dontrrscrape October 22, 2012 at 4:27 pm

i was just caught with rr scape and had 1500 pounds what would the charge be in michigan? and i found them on a farm so i wasnt truspassing can i get out of it?

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Michael November 9, 2012 at 2:24 am

Going back to the railroads, i live in N. FL.
Taking spikes, tie plates, bolts, pulling anything up from the ROW is not only illegal but it is a felony. You cannot simply take railroad scrap to the scrapper. Doesnt happen that way, scrappers are not allowed to accept the metal, and will report you to the police. Asking the railroad wont do you no good, contractors handle the scrap. Most to all is pulled by MOW, but some gets left or loosens up on the tracks.
My suggestion is to not touch it!!! Class 1′s such as csx and ns, dont tolerate it. It is property of the railroad, and you are subject to legal ramifications. If however the metal is not recognizable and is ok by the railroad, it is fair game. But if the metal is next to the ROW, within 30 feet, dont think of toating it off…

Mike A.

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Mother November 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Mentally disabled, homeless son scraps for extra money. Honest as the day is long, but dirty, unkept, with matted bushy, curly hair. Lacks good judgement, fails to see how things look, and doesn’t learn from his mistakes. Got pulled. Probably the appearance of the vehicle. Can physically drive, but lacks money and ability to maintain automobile. Looks like something out of the scrap yard: hand brushed paint job, bald front tires, no back bumper, license held by a chain, shattered windshield on passenger side, barely legal. Clearly won’t pass inspection, next time around. With his permission, “because he had nothing to hide,” the cop conducted a search of his vehicle and ended up going through his pile of brass inside the cab and found a small brass pipe. I know it looks bad, but he throws the small stuff in the cab and tosses the big stuff in the back. Now he has a paraphernalia charge. He’s so inexperienced with drugs that he has no idea what kind of pipe it was. And his brain injury prevents him from recalling where or when he found it. Has no money to hire a lawyer. Lacks the ability to defend himself. Refuses our help. Went to court, plead not guilty. After 5 hours, his case was the last to be heard. Court didn’t have the evidence back. Obviously, they knew this at the onset. Made him sit there all day, in hopes he’d cave and plead guilty. Gave him a 2-month return date. Ignored his cry that he lived 2 hours away and couldn’t afford to return. Our state laws requires evidence of the illegal substance to be present in order to convict for paraphernalia. And are willing to spend the time and money to have the pipe tested in order to get a conviction. While ignoring our previous attempts to have him deemed mentally incompetent so we can properly advocate for him and see that he has shelter and food. Any thoughts?

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ScrapMetalJunkie November 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

This sounds like a horribly unfortunate tragedy. I, unfortunately, am not in the least bit qualified to give legal council. However, I wish you and your family the best of luck!

This story is a tragic one. A lot of people are harvesting what money they can from scrap metal because it is one of the few jobs left that doesn’t require a mass of qualifications; just a hard working atitude and a good sense of right and wrong. I just hope it doesn’t become more common, and eventually “standard,” for people to harass those collecting scrap metal.

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Anonymous October 20, 2013 at 3:24 am

Hello Mother & ScrapMetalJunkie,
I’ve been enjoying reading your comments & info contained within your site. Mother, I am appalled to hear that the cops/etc. have no mercy or clue apparently of whom they are dealing with (& you know they do), your poor son. I feel terrible for you both. I did have one thought that might help prove his innocence and that is to buy one of those drug hair tests that certain employers and others use to test potential employees for drugs and such. There are several of them, they do cost around $100 or so as I recall but I remember at least one of them guaranteeing to hold up in court (they state this as part of their marketing tool). These tests will show and confirm the last year (& sometimes more than a year) of time of a person’s DNA and will positively show what drugs and how much and how often the said person took/did whatever drugs and so forth.In the case of your son’s innocence (make sure that is the case & it surely sounds like it is & I’m not doubting you or anything like that), no marijuana or whatever else they may have found residual remnants existed in the pipe & are using as the basis of their claim it sounds.Then have him simply tell them the truth like it is that he found that scrapping which should be obvious/apparent to any coherent cops/judges/jury/etc. based on the amount of other similar metals found with him in his vehicle. It may be a good idea to have some well reputable testing facility (like maybe the one that the police dept. uses or similar) administer the hair DNA test/results so that they can’t try to claim that it was falsified or wasn’t his or whatever other BS could come up w/their sometimes ridiculous judgement/comments.I hope that this helps.If you have trouble funding this type of thing (that is buying the test and having a said testing facility administer it, let me know & I might be able to financially help some).I truly wish you & your son the best & wish the authorities there would wake up and smell the coffee & do the job they were hired to do which is to seek out the real criminals which your son is obviously not one of.Unbelievable nonsense. I used to have a fair amount of respect for them (& still have some as they do get their fair share of wackos w/guns,etc.) but after I’ve been harassed so many times for doing my job, minding my own business,trying to help someone in need of help,etc. by as many as ten officers at once, it’s difficult to have much any more…truly sad.Best of Luck to you.Hoping that your lives get better soon.Hang in there!

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Mother November 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thanks for caring enough to respond.

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Mother & SPMI/TBI Advocate January 9, 2013 at 3:19 am

That is an awful situation to happen & in this case a prime example of how stigma’s can destroy someone’s life. Mental illness, of any nature, is sadly misunderstood, mistaken, and so stigmatized that a large majority of those suffering from it will refuse to seek assistance or treatments due to fear of repercussions. I am not a lawyer. But I have years upon years of experience advocating for, and working with, people suffering from severe & persistent mental illness (including TBIs). I am also a mom. My suggestion is this – you have the right, if you choose, to have your son deemed mentally incompetent. Those who do not have the capacity to make sound judgement can have those ‘rights’ removed from them. I have seen this work in peoples best interest and benefit and I have seen this at its worst. People, no matter what capacity they function with in, have the right and need of free will. For those who suffer from SPMI/TBI, that right to have and maintain control of their life, choices, etc is far more detrimental. That being said, restrictions and guidance involving those who are considered incompetent are a necessary evil most of the time. As a mom, I support protecting your son – any way you can. As a professional, I urge you to be careful but to advocate on his behalf. Most people (in this case the police) are not trying to be ignorant or cruel. They simply lack the training or understanding to be effective or compassionate. Go into the HSS department in the court house and talk to a social worker. They will advise you or guide you in the right direction with your son’s interest in mind.

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more dan wit August 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

This is a horrible story. And Mother & SPMI/TBI Advocate’s comment: “Most people (in this case the police) are not trying to be ignorant or cruel. They simply lack the training or understanding to be effective or compassionate” is right on. There’s the letter and there’s the spirit of the law, and some cops, in some situations, don’t waiver an inch…but it seems like he was railroaded. Surely the judge can see that this mentally ill/homeless man is no threat. Surely the son didn’t dry-clean a suit and come on like a plaintiff w/gravitas. Just a confused young man…higher up, the district attorney, allied with police “top brass” is enforcing, in a cutthroat fashion, a new policy (or whatever); in other words, the courts look worse than police if “Our state laws requires evidence of the illegal substance to be present in order to convict for paraphernalia. And are willing to spend the time and money to have the pipe tested in order to get a conviction.” …and tactics learned in Iraq, or during Katrina, are turned on U.S. civilians. “Effective or compassionate” go out the door, arm in arm, based on an empty pot pipe? Mother, how did this end?

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Josh November 21, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Hello. I went on my first scrap run today. I wasn’t out long and I was really just trying to get my baby daughter to sleep. I decided to check the dumpsters at the old apartment complex where I used to live. I had only managed to check my second dumpster when maintenance personnel drove over and told me they didn’t allow scrapping. Do you need to obtain the apartment manager’s permission before checking for scrap? I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Are most apartments/businesses that uptight about dumpster diving? Thanks.

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ScrapMetalJunkie November 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Dumpsters that are located on private property are generally off limits when collecting scrap metal. From a technical legal perspective, there is nothing wrong with taking the trash, but you are trespassing on the apartment’s property when they don’t want you there. Save yourself the trouble of dealing with the cops, because they don’t really care about the technicality of anything, and dont go back to that apartment complex. Best of Luck!

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Recycler November 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Might want to delete lots of what you say is (iyo) fact.
Garbage on my property for the trash truck is not ‘public domain.
And NEW laws in some states like here in Ohio, now make *sanford and sons* type
scrappers, an official business now.
If a “scrapper” picks up metals, and *processes* them, (seperates the metals), they are
NOW a junk dealer/recycler. And are REQUIRED to register with the state (yes a yearly $ charge
is involved. And being, now, a junkyard/scrap/recycler/ of metals, they also have to abide
by the new laws. Reporting to LEADS daily. Picture taking of the items,persons, fingerprint scanner,
signature scanner, blah blah blah blah.
Homeland Security is taking over, and coming up with a huge list of new laws/rules. Such as a ban on ANY burnt copper (unless from a ‘legal’ burn).
3-day minimum wait on payment of ANYTHING that’s not of the “everyday ordinary”.

Anyway, the H.S. people, during the meetings with us recyclers/yards, put a LOT of emphisis on the “sanford & sons” types (guessing they feel they are responsible for lots of thefts?)

As these new laws were/are being worked on the last couple years, I’ve been saying, “this can’t be so much about theft, than the $$$. Well, guess what 1 of the new laws are ??? We’re now required to send out 1099s to everyone that sells us $600 or more in a calender years (that alone, the paperwork, will put lots of real yards out of business). Even legit people won’t like that one.

The reporting to LEADS will deter many also. lol. Say we swipe an id, and that person has a warrant from wherever, it’s *immediately* sent to leads, who promptly sends the alert to the local cops, even on their laptops in the cruisers.

blah blah blah.

The scrapping business is going to change big time in the next 18 months ! Least for the mom & pop small guys anyway.

(and Adam, if you really sold ANY RR items to a junkyard, THEY broke the law by buying them. There is a long list of DO NOT BUY that we have to abide by.)

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ScrapMetalJunkie November 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Thanks for the comment, Recycler.

First off, I would like to say this is only true on the federal level. Every state and city will have their own legislation that can change the local law.

Garbage on your property for the trash truck falls under public domain, as stated above, “when it is sitting on the government-owned fringe property waiting for the city’s publicly contracted waste management service to pick it up.” Any other time, it will not be considered public domain. (We know that this is true because it is the same argument used by police officers when they dig around in a suspect’s trash.)

You touched on a couple points that I have written articles on already:
Burning Copper Wire Illegal
Scrap Metal Taxes
Updated Scrap Metal Taxes Law

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Recycler November 23, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Read the other threads, shoulda done that beforehand..lol.
And YES, omg what a paperwork burden. The extra help, and that’s not just for the 1099s.
We (Ohio) have at least an 11-step burden, time consuming, to do with most purchases now.
Another HUGE problem I have with this going ‘live’ (online) thing, is it’s yet another way we
can be ‘tracked’ by big brother now. (Loyalty cards are a huge issue I have also), not to mention credit cards and the like.
The only good news at this moment, is we’re in a ‘holding pattern’ on implimenting MOST of the requirements (homeland security still trying to figure out how to tie most these programs into one, I’m guessing). All those pictures, siggies, thumbprints, etc etc, spose to go on the receipt.
They also working on another issue they feel is big, what they call the “honey do issue”. (trying to figure out how to keep people from selling scrap, that are friends/relation/etc of a known or suspected thief) not sure how they can do that.. but…with this government.. well .. :( .

My main ‘issue’ with the sanford and son types, is the illegal venting of refrigerants and such. Course, it’d only take ONE fine (up to $48,000) to take care of that..lol.

Here’s ya a link to a junk site, with some of thats states laws…ouch.
((•If the total value of the metals you bring in equals $30 or more we will mail you a check 10 days after the date the metals are delivered.))
http://www.earthworksrecycling.com/faqScrap.html

Yet even more paperwork in that state for businesses. Imagine having to send out 50, 100, or whatever checks every day .. omg.

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rhett December 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Thanks for all the advice. My buddies and I were just brainstorming the other day ways to make some extra money and someone brought up gathering scrap metal in Minneapolis. We got into a huge debate about whether that was legal or not. This post is very interesting and answered some of our questions, I should pass it on to everyone.

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Heath January 1, 2013 at 5:38 am

Greetings,
Just joined the site. Plan on scraping a bit more seriously than I have in the past. Re: the legality of trash can surfing on neighborhood trash day. Here in the metro Denver area many of the municipalities do not have city or even city contracted refuse service, rather the individual homeowners pay for their own trash service. So does the same common ” public domain” reasoning stand up or does the refuse belong to the homeowner and/or the refuse service company. Obviously designated recycling containers would be at a minimum bad form to take from if not stealing from the refuse service company but what about ordinary garbage? I see fellows run ahead of the trucks in the morning searching through. but that doesn’t make automatically right. Thoughts?
Many thanks in advance.

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BOB January 17, 2013 at 1:04 am

Well I will point out. I do collect cans in the woods and along sidewalks on streets. there are woods in the area behind food stores where people have mass beer parties. I have collected several hundrend cans that are not destined for recycle. I further get stoves and fridges that people toss out and toasters and vaccuums that are in public dumpsters. I also ask people for unwanted items. I do not have a business but helps with the bills that my job doesn’t cover. I also collect junk tvs and computers and take them to the recycle center. It is getting harder and harder with property owners being d*cks. I’m not stealing or hurting anyone just trying to survive like everyone else. America is the most wasteful country in the world.

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micheal dooley February 10, 2013 at 6:20 am

just wanted some info on scraping on closed roads. i found some steel on a closed road an old gravel producing plant use to be there this stuff is all over the place, so in carry a couple of choice peices to my truck and theres this old pervert staring at my girlfreind with a camera in his hand, as i walk by he says are you serious, iam like huh! there are gates with locks on them and dirt roads leading into the hills but those are there to stop 4 wheeling and crazy off roaders there are no other fence boundrys around this part of the old plant .old timester says if you put that in your truck il take a picture of your plate and send it to the police now this is after all day digging the first thought was to ignore him with out as much as a glance then i thought is he calling me a thief now there isnt a house around for 3 miles or over the next 4 large hills i started to get pissed off becuse we are in the middle of nowhere and just who the hell is this old fart trying to put me threw it and why.now iam thinking so i put down the metal and say so when i drive off whats stopping you from putting it in your car. he says nothing,so i say whats your name he replied john strong then he leans into my window and starts giving me the criminal run down of activiteys at this spot,iam thinking i havent done any of his said events iam just carrying a few pieces of metal back to my truck.so as it turns out its said park property and he is the park rat without the badge , but this isnt like Iave a team out there scouring the land for scrap what is the law on finding metal on said park property and no fences but accesiable to the public without a house insight its really no different than digging old bottles for money right this old plant has already been demolished and bulldozed over ten years ago so after all this what right do i have here with this metal in my hand not trespassing just curious as to what is hidden below ground .

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Michael February 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

That BTW is most likely private property. Its not fair game.

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Michael February 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

It doesnt pay to scrap

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 11, 2013 at 6:06 am

Not sure what you mean…?

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JASON November 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I am not sure what you mean exactly however most properties, especially in sub divisions or communities have what you call public easements for either road or sidewalk public ways. If scrap is located on the curbs of most homes, that is public property.

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Michael February 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm

They dont pay much.

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Recycler February 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm

micheal dooley….mindsets like that is why so many new laws are coming out.
Rule #1. If it’s not yours, assume it belongs to someone else…period.
Same applies to, say, hunting, if it’s not your land, ASSUME it’s someones elses.
Just because there isn’t a house within site, doesn’t mean it’s not privately owned.

And to Michael, I assume you live in one of the states, jumping the bandwagon with the new laws.
Read the privious post by me. In ohio, a whole host of laws now apply, and come Jan. 1st…omg.
Homeland security is in charge of this stuff now. They’re serious. And with all these new laws, yes, it is/will become more difficult to ‘scrap’.
During that 3-hour meeting, they explained, if you “process metals” you’re now a junkyard and have to abide by the same rules as junkyards (HUGE amount of picture taking, ‘complete’ item description, id recording..blah blah.
My issue with that, is the term PROCESSING. We all know that in order to get the best $$ for your metals, to seperate them. But does that *blanket* statement (processing) mean? Seperating a refrigerator? Tearing apart a fiberglass/aluminum step ladder? I don’t see it myself, but you know how ‘government’ works :( .

In just a few months, the number of states that have implimented the no buy/sell of burnt copper has jumped. (I actually agree with that one though).

We all know it’s suppose to be about the thieving..none of us like a thief. But don’t think for one second it’s not all about the revenue ;) . Sell $600 or more in a callendar year, and you’ll be sent a 1099. I SO don’t agree with that. 1st, it’s bullhockey. 2nd, just going to be a HUGE burden on scrap yards. And many will end up shutting down if ALL this goes thru. These ‘systems’ what all junk yards will be linked to, all goes theu LEADS. So if an item has been ‘flagged’ by LEOs, the system will kick it out soon as we type it in. So, before the money is even in your hands, an alert will have already been sent out to every cop with a laptop in their cruiser :( . I could go on..but geesh. This is all bull hockey. Thank your local thiefs for that.

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Michael February 11, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I live in FL.
Laws differ depending upon state, most metals such as railroad, military, and metals off private properties are considered stolen.
Please be aware though, large amounts of copper are suspicious among very heavy metals. If you have proof, provide it to the scrapper before getting the cash.

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JASON November 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

You are partly correct. A lot of copper is not always deemed stolen. It depends on what type of copper. If you have an insulated copper that anybody can buy at Radio Shack, it won’t necessarily be deemed stolen depending on the question and answer. If you have commercial or industrial copper, than yeah, you better have documentation. Railroad and military, yes. You will not be able to sell it without documentation. The copper though depends on the story mostly. Household copper not so much.

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chadious April 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

i was looking at a burnt trailer had left 3 messages the last time i looked at it with a freind to see if there was enough there to keep bothering over it cause i already had a trailer given to me else where but i guess this place got robbed for part of its junk an the law came at me first they were going to charge me with b&e an criminal theft now they want me to cop to tresspassing an theft with 18 dollar restition they said there is a list homeland security just came out with an i am blacklisted from all junkyards in us is that even possable

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 7, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Contact a lawyer!

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Recycler April 8, 2013 at 4:41 am

Agree with SMJ.. but,
I feel the whole story isn’t being told.
This wasn’t your trailer? And if not, do you have *written* permission from the owner?
Perhaps your ‘friend’ is involved?
Need more info. But yes, H.S. is getting involved in the scrapping business now,
and it’s a whole new ball game, and don’t think for a second we yard owners like it.

Far as the “do not buy from list” , many states have it. Til recently it was paperwork. Take a license and picture and compare it to the areas/counties list of people not to buy from. Some, and here in Ohio, by 1/1/2014, we’ll ALL be *online*, live. ID, pictures, descriptions, etc. . And simply swiping your id will tell us immediately whether we can buy from you or not. (not to mention, IF there was, say, a warrant against you, anywhere, we/you just told the cops where you are, by scanning the id).

H.S. is now making the yards do the police work for them it seems. At a HUGE cost to the owners.

If you find an abandoned / burnt / ANY property, that isn’t YOURS, advice is to seek *written* permission by the owner to salvage it.

As for the ‘do not buy from list’ there are several aspects that H.S. is going for here. Not just convicted thiefs, but “suspected” thiefs (not sure how they gonna pull that one..hmmm)
And as I explained before, the “honey do factor” (can only guess ‘associated’ people the ?thief? knows)
REALLY wanna see how they pull that one also. Can’t be done..imo. !

Things are changing in the scrap business, big time. And only a small portion for the ‘good’.
(sorry SMJ if I shoulda stayed butted out…I’m bored this evening…..lol)

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LadyDi April 16, 2013 at 1:06 am

Some questions……when you are scrapping, where do you take it to sort? Your home or somewhere else? If your home, which I presume is zoned residential, did you have to get a special use permit to sort the scrap? How do you contain the scrap so it doesn’t upset the neighbors or give the town a “bad rep” What kinds of ordinances do you run into either pro or con scrapping?

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I own a small workshop that I run my recycling business out of, but most scrappers just use there backyards, garages, or sheds.

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Steve May 15, 2013 at 6:07 am

Someone stole my great great grandfathers cement mixer with a hit or miss engine. The 1st scrapyard said “yeah, he was here and I think the container is gone and on the way to China” this was FOUR hours later that I caught on. Don’t scrapyards have to wait 48 hrs prior to disposal?? I have his name and truck on video along with a witness so I am pressing charges. This is in Mass btw.

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Recycler May 16, 2013 at 3:27 pm

If I may, 1st, sorry to hear bout the loss of your gggfathers mixer Steve.
1st thing I suggest to customers who have had something stolen, *especially* if it’s a VERY identifiable item, is contact all the area yards. *Most* will help. We don’t like thieves anymore than anyone else.
If you find where it was sold, then contact the cops to meet them at that yard. Let the LEOs take it from there. And yes, press charges. But in real life, I wouldn’t expect too much unless it’s a high value item, unfortunately. Something like that, at best, you MIGHT get the item back. Doubt a prosecutor will take that for, again, a low $$ item.
Holding laws differ from state to state, not sure what MA is. Many states, yes, have a certain number of days to ‘hold’ items, though it’s mostly for SPA (special purchase articles). Like most copper, non ferrous, items of the “not everyday ordinary” so to speak. imo, sounds to me like this would have been considered just plain ol’ junk and thrown in the iron pile. (minus the motor of course).
Hold laws here for the SPA’s varies from 2-30 days. As with any stolen item, time is of the importance…as in DAYS, or less. We get people looking for stuff, and they say it ‘could have been taken’ as long as 6 months previous..uhm…….not gonna happen.
Hopefully, in MA, as in lots of states now, we’re going “electronic”, or ‘on-line’. Where most all SPAs transactions are recorded. In many ways. Not the least of which is pictures of the item, person, vehicle, id’s, fingerprints, etc. . And once sent to the states LEADS, a LEO can access that site, punch in a persons name, and see what they’ve sold to any junkyard, for a certain period of time (usually 12 months).
But again, a mixer probably wouldn’t be considered special, sorry :( .

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Mac May 29, 2013 at 2:41 am

Kind of a unique situation. We live in a rural area where there a lot of things needing demolition. On our property, we had and old house trailer and gave permission for a couple of guys to scrap it out. The agreement (Verbal only, no written contract.) was that they would tear down the trailer and burn the wood. We had to be gone for a day while they were there and came back to find that they had let the fire get out of control and burned about half of our garden. They also mangled one of our trees, claiming the branches were in their way. After that, we told them we would do the rest of the burning, so they took the metal and went on to tear down an old house on our neighbor’s property.

That is where the question comes in. Our neighbor gave us the wood from this house, because we wanted it to build a shed. These guys knew that and agreed to take the metal and leave the wood for us. Now, they have gotten into the bones of the house and have discovered that it was built with all native timber. Good stuff. They have decided that they want it to sell, even though it was promised to us by the property owner. With no written contract, does that house belong to them, or does it still belong to the people upon whose property it sits? I’m not going to get into anything legal with this; I’m just curious. When someone gives another person permission to tear down a house for salvage, are they giving over ownership of it?

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ScrapMetalJunkie June 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm

No, this is a legal grey area. I am not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure the property owner still owns everything, especially if there is no written contract.

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Mac June 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm

No law degree here, either, but my common sense tells me you’re right. Thanks for your answer.

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Jgirl614 July 8, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Most apartment complexes will not allow scrapping out of the dumpsters. It’s really ridiculous because I am not going in there to commit any crimes. So much stuff goes to landfills every year because they won’t allow people like us to have a little recycling job and do the right thing. Makes me really mad!

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Scrap Rookie August 20, 2013 at 6:59 am

Firstly I want to thank you all for such informative posts and dedication to the subject of scrapping, the insights provided here are priceless. I recently quit my job because I decided that making someone else rich full-time while slowly going broke really sucks. Buying a truck and running my own scrap route has lately been on my mind. There is a decent facility that is located very close to my home that I can deliver scrap to. I just have a few questions for those with some experience as I have none in this field. If you run your own scrap route how in the world do you get refrigerators, dryers, water heaters, stoves and other appliances into the back of your truck? Don’t you need more than one person to lift such things and doesn’t that halve your income potential? I am also curious about sorting, do you have to dismantle these appliances or do scrap processors take whole items that have not been dismantled? Also – the talk about DHS putting their fat ugly face where it doesn’t belong and the tax implications are enough to make it a discouraging venture. How the heck is someone supposed to file taxes on scrap income when the processors don’t give you a receipt? Take a picture of every item? If one had to take picture of the item, have a receipt created, file with a 1099, itemize based on gas and expenses – doesn’t that pretty much destroy any type of income potential?

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Kathleen October 12, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Any one know of Scrapping Laws in Connecticut. I’m a CNA looking to supplement my income by scrapping. At first I thought I’d work hard and eventually quit my job. After reading these comments, I’m not even sure if scrapping is legal!

Feedback welcome. I really want to learn more!

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RL November 3, 2013 at 12:54 am

Where can i find the law on whether or not it’s ok to pick up items on a roadside easement? there’s nothing on them to indicate ownership

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Vern November 3, 2013 at 8:56 am

I live in St.Paul,MN I do not scrap but have friends that do. There is a huge scrapper problem here, yes I said PROBLEM! I have had several things stolen from my property that are worth more to me than a few cents to a scumbag that can’t get up in the morning for a real job, and yes there is plenty of real jobs out there to be had unless you have a problem taking direction from someone who knows more than you. You can’t bullshit me scrappers, we all know that most of you have accidentally slipped and fell just a little into the yard or driveway to claim someone else’s property. I call that a filthy thief . Not to mention the possibility of having your house staked out over several passes thru for a burglary,and yes it happens more than you think. I catch one of you little greasy pricks on my property, I’m gonna pump you full of lead then finish eating dinner, maybe catch a netflix movie, relax a little. Get a real job you bums…… No need for any moronic comments either….they will not be entertained

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Stephen Wansborough January 10, 2014 at 11:25 am

Wow, I’m appalled that this has been allowed to happen. Next thing you will find that Americans will all have a tracking ID chip implanted in their body, and wont even be able to buy food if they’re even suspected of doing something different that the 99 percentile of “normal” people wouldnt normally do – like helping the enviroment and earning alittle money in the process. You’re commercially controlled government is turning the majority of americans into mindless tax paying robots – sustaining the lifestyles of the super rich 4th percentile (wrathchilds and others come to mind).. I feel sorry for the children of the next generation.. they will be the meat-robots of the future, and it will be taught from pre-school that this is “normal” society !

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Michael appleby January 31, 2014 at 12:55 am

Scrap railroad metal.

That is true jason. All railroad metal is company and federally owned. Unlawful selling or attempting to remove is all illegal. Its a felony charge if caught.

I collect railroad signal equipment. Its legal to get that equipment, but other than that, its illegal.

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daniel rok March 17, 2014 at 5:05 am

Residential burglary for going into an old abandoned house in new mexico got three years probation the owner of the house was never found. I had the scrap loaded wen the cops arrived around midnight. Is that fair?? I dnt think soo

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Mike M. April 4, 2014 at 4:27 am

In the city where I live not only is taking scrap on the curb illegal, it is an arrestable offense, “Theft of recyclibles.” Essentially youre stealing from the recycling company and taking money out of their pockets..

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