This is a real issue in rural parts of the country.
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The Senate is moving to make metal theft a federal crime, with the Judiciary Committee poised to take action later this week on a bill that would impose a 10-year prison sentence on anyone caught stealing metal from telephone or cell towers, highway equipment or other critical infrastructure. Copper theft is a particular problem, with the average annual price on global markets quadrupling over the past decade.

The bill would also make it tougher to fence stolen metal by requiring more record-keeping for recycling agents, and prohibiting them from paying cash for purchases larger than $100.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat who wrote the bill, said metal theft has jumped more than 80 percent in recent years, and people have stolen from homes, churches and even brass stars from veterans’ graves in her home state.

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