On Wednesday, the Minneapolis City Council's Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Health Committee will take up a proposal for an anti-scrapper task force.
At the committee's last meeting, Council President Barb Johnson (Ward 4) proposed the idea of a task force that would examine how the city could combat what she called a "cottage industry" of scrappers and metal thieves who have vexed of many Minneapolis residents in recent years.
According to Johnson, the problem has surged dramatically. While some scrappers confine themselves to taking from recycling bins and items that people leave out by the roadside, several councilmembers at that meeting told stories of scrapper crimes, from stealing locked bicycles to breaking into a locked and fenced-off area of a Northside church and stealing the copper out of a brand-new air conditioning unit. On websites like the Minneapolis E-Democracy forums, scrappers are an occasional target of frustration and anger.
According to a document posted on the city website, the proposed task force would look at:
- Existing ordinances already in place that may be utilized in order to address these issues through increased citations and enhanced enforcement;Adding penalties to existing ordinances;
- Considering other needed regulatory changes;
- More effectively communicating with residents about steps that can be taken when they see these activities in their neighborhoods;
- Other potential remedies and actions that may assist in these efforts
High demand for metals like copper has encouraged informal scrapping business to spring up across Minneapolis. Unauthorized removal of recyclable materials from the curbside or an alleyway is against city ordinances, although Johnson suggested the potential task force could look at lobbying for changes in state law, as well.