Determining whether some laws are working generally takes a fair amount of research. But when an apartment complex explodes, you pretty much have your answer about whether the state’s attempts to discourage copper theft are working. They’re not, otherwise apartment buildings wouldn’t be exploding.
Thomas Deegan, the manager of Minneapolis’ Problem Properties Unit, speculated last spring that up to 20 percent of the city’s vacant buildings have had their copper pipes ripped out.
On Sunday, the apartment complex in north Minneapolis exploded and arson investigators say copper thieves are the reason. Last March, a house on Colfax also exploded because of a gas leak. It, too, was vacant.
In 2007, the Minnesota Legislature tightened restrictions on scrap metal dealers, by requiring scrap metal dealers to keep records of their metal purchases.
But copper pipes are still being stolen, houses are still blowing up, and somebody is paying the thieves for the copper with impunity.
About the blogger
Bob Collins has been with Minnesota Public Radio since 1992, emigrating to Minnesota from Massachusetts. He was senior editor of news in the ’90s, ran MPR’s political unit, created the MPR News regional website, invented the popular Select A Candidate, started the two most popular blogs in the history of MPR and every day laments that his Minnesota Fantasy Legislature project never caught on.
NewsCut is a blog featuring observations about the news. It provides a forum for an online discussion and debate about events that might not typically make the front page. NewsCut posts are not news stories but reflections , observations, and debate.