Governor Lincoln Chafee approved legislation aimed at copper thieves this week.
"The Copper Theft Prevention Act" has been designed to make it harder for thieves to sell their stolen metal to secondary metal recyclers.
Secondary recyclers will now be required to have a license from the Attorney Generals Office allowing them to purchase certain types of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. In addition, buyers will also be expected to obtain personal identity cards and keep records on all transactions.
Vacant houses and construction lots are prime targets for the thieves who steal everything from copper pipes to air-conditioning units. This is a $1 billion dollar a year issue in the United States, says the US Department of Energy.
The law, set to go into effect on December 31st of this year, will make violators guilty of a misdemeanor and could face a charge of up to $1,000 and/or a year in prison.