Loophole can turn cars into easy cash for thieves

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The sheriff in Richland County wants to see South Carolina law changed after he recently learned about a loophole that could make it easy for thieves to make money off of stolen cars.

"I have an eight year old Honda, and I said this has got to last me the rest of my life," commented Ellie Maroon about why she worries about the loophole.

Because her car is more than eight years old, someone who steals it could sell it at a scrap metal yard, without the scrap metal dealer asking for proof of ownership or running it through a database to see if it is stolen.

For newer cars state law does require a scrap metal dealer to check for that information.

"Right now with metal being so expensive there's a lot of thievery going on," Maroon said. "People are desperate. They don't have jobs. They don't have money. This is a way out to get money."

Maroon said she would like to see the law changed.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told The State newspaper he would like to see the loophole closed too. He recently heard about a case of some selling a stolen car at a scrap metal yard near Columbia.

At Waccamaw Metal Recycling in Myrtle Beach Jeffrey Rogers said the change would not be much of a burden for him and similar businesses. He already follows the stricter requirements for all cars he buys.

"I don't have any problems whatsoever," Rogers said. "I'm sure this law is like everything else - it's been years and years since it's been adjusted."

Now that word is spreading about the loophole he believes his industry will push for the change too. He said just like the recently-enacted law to cut down on copper theft, he does not mind steps aimed at eliminating illegal activity.

"The South Carolina Metal Recyclers Association will probably meet at some point with legislators and make adjustments where necessary," Rogers said.

Maroon said she hopes others will take action too. She wants to be sure state lawmakers become aware of the loophole.

"I think people should contact their representatives and see that it gets done," she said.

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