Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry, president of the Georgia Sheriff's Association, spoke to the Georgia Farm Bureau Board of Directors recently about metal theft, offering recommendations for state legislation needed to fight the crime.

"Communities across the state are suffering a loss we can't sustain due to metal theft," Berry said. "I've been in
law enforcement for 34 years and this is a crisis." 

Berry said he hopes to see the Georgia General Assembly pass legislation next year similar to a law that
went into effect in South Carolina in August. South Carolina's new law requires permits to sell metal and includes other regulations that make it easier for law enforcement to trace criminals.

Berry said he would like to see Georgia pass state legislation that requires a permit issued by the local sheriff's office to transport more than 10 pounds of nonferrous metal or to sell nonferrous metal. Permits would be issued, pending a criminal background check by the sheriff's office.

Berry would also like to see a state law that eliminates cash payments for copper sales regardless of the payment waiting period and that implements a statewide computer database to record all metal sales.