It's one of the most untraceable crimes, but now U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is looking to toughen laws on metal theft and push for jail time.
On Tuesday, Mr. Schumer introduced The Metal Theft Prevention Act.
This would require recyclers to keep detailed records of metal they buy, make people prove the metal belongs to them, and on a deal worth $100 or more, it can't be in cash.
"Then there's a path, there's tracing. We can find these guys and they cant get the cold cash anymore," said Sen. Schumer.
Sgt. Steve Hauck with the Utica Police says scrap metal theft is a problem he's seen increasing in his city.
With the new law, Hauck says the police will know where to go.
"There was no investigative avenues in the past, where they could just walk into a scrap shop, put the metal down, and they'd get the money back. Now, there's actually going to be a way to trace them and hopefully find out where they got it from," said Sgt. Hauck.
By discovering where the metal came from, Sgt. Hauck says the new law will not only catch thieves, but hold the buyer accountable as well.
"They have to take identification from the person, and they have to provide a check. There's going to be a trace there, so you would hope that somebody who is on the fence of buying stolen property wouldn't do it," said Hauck.
Schumer says he is hoping to have the bill passed early next year.