Scrap dealer fears ‘backlash’ as Saskatchewan moves to ban cash-for-metal transactions

Click to play video: 'Scrap dealer fears ‘backlash’ as Saskatchewan moves to ban cash-for-metal transactions'
Scrap dealer fears ‘backlash’ as Saskatchewan moves to ban cash-for-metal transactions
WATCH: The Saskatchewan government wants to limit cash transactions for scrap metal in an effort to curb theft of valuable metals like copper – Dec 11, 2020

Regina’s Karen Kissner deals with recycled metals every day, but right now, it’s a piece of part of new provincial legislation that she wants to see scrapped.

On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan government introduced the Pawned Property (Recording) Amendment Act, which will restrict cash transactions at scrapyards.

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Most scrap dealers, according to Kissner, do 99 per cent of their business in cash.

“We’re going to take a lot of the backlash for this,” said Kissner, the manager for CMS Metal Products.

At her family’s business, Kissner said she’s the only one who has signing authority for their bank account. She said she can’t be there every day to cut cheques, adding not everyone wants to do online banking.

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Over 33 years, Kissner said CMS Metal Products has had a productive relationship with Regina police. With surveillance cameras around the yard, she said the company has helped police catch several thieves.

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Limiting cash transactions, whether for a few dollars, hundreds or thousands, will only frustrate the company’s customers, according to the manager.

“They want their money right now,” Kissner said. “They want cash, which should be their right.”

Some amounts of cash appear likely to be allowed, according to an emailed statement to Global News.

“The legislation makes it a requirement for a traceable currency, such as a debit card or credit card, to be used if the value of a scrap metal transaction exceeds a specific dollar amount,” said from justice ministry spokesperson Margherita Vittorelli.

The dollar amount won’t be decided until after the bill passes, following input from stakeholders, Vittorelli said. She compared the approach to one that took effect in Alberta in November.

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“The goal is to improve the transparency of scrap metal transactions to make it harder to sell stolen metal,” Vittorelli said.

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Kissner said she’d rather see the government address what she called the root causes of the issue: poverty and addictions that drive theft.

Saskatchewan’s new legislation will also require scrapyards to record identification and transaction information from patrons. The information can then help police track down anyone who sells stolen metal.

Kissner said she doesn’t have an issue requesting ID from walk-in customers, but said she doesn’t think long-time, legitimate customers should need to provide identification.

Some record-keeping provisions for metal already exist under a Saskatoon city bylaw, though Staff Sgt. Matthew Ward said past investigations revealed how some thieves steal metal in one community and sell it in another.

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With some jurisdictions requiring little to no tracking, thieves are “happy to make the trip to a different municipality if it helps them avoid detection or prosecution,” said Ward, who oversees general investigations in the city.

Common sources of stolen metal in Saskatoon include copper wire and catalytic converters from vehicles, according to Ward.

In a news release Wednesday, the Saskatchewan government said “rural property owners bear a disproportionate burden of this type of crime,” but Ward said all business and property owners can protect themselves from what is largely a crime of opportunity.

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He said owners should document serial numbers on all types of metal. If they don’t have serial numbers, he recommends owners engrave their metal.

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