Proposal Aimed at Cracking Down on Railroad Property Theft Approved by Senate Committee

HARRISBURG – A proposal sponsored by Senator David G. Argall (R-29) that would strengthen the state’s Scrap Material Theft Prevention Act by including railroad materials received unanimous approval during Tuesday’s Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meeting, according to committee Chairman Gene Yaw (R-23).

Senate Bill 1077 would add several railroad materials to the list of items that a scrap processor or recycling facility may purchase strictly from a commercial entity, not an individual.

“Senator Argall’s legislation is a practical proposal that would seek to combat the increased number of thefts from the railroad industry,” Yaw said. “It will safeguard the industry and is in the public interest.”

“It’s an issue of public safety for Pennsylvanians,” said Argall, who introduced the bill after learning about increased theft from the Reading and Northern Railroad. “Can you imagine the deadly harm a stolen rail or warning sign could cause to the public?  I’m hopeful this further deters criminals from stealing railroad property across the state.”

“By removing an individual’s ability to sell railroad materials for scrap metal, we will significantly lessen the incentive for criminals to target our railroads,” added Senator John Yudichak (D-14), Democratic Chairman of the committee. “Rail lines are critical to commerce at all corners of the Commonwealth and we must continue to enhance our laws pertaining to the railroad industry.”

Railroad materials, as defined in Argall’s proposal, includes crossing signals, spikes, track and other materials specifically used by railroads.

Currently, scrap processors are required to obtain a photocopy the seller’s driver’s license, a signature from both buyer and seller, the license plate number of the vehicle belonging to the seller, as well as the date, time and description of the transaction if the materials are valued over $100.

Pennsylvania’s law also states that certain items, including beer kegs, detached catalytic converters, metallic wire valued more than $100, and several construction-related materials, are only allowed to be sold to a scrap processor through a commercial entity. Argall’s bill would add railroad materials to that list.

“When the Reading and Northern Railroad brought this serious safety issue to my attention at one of my town hall meetings, I knew we had to find a way to crack down on this illegal behavior before there is a serious injury.” Argall said.

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