Florida Metal Scrap Statute

The State Metals Theft Laws summaries are not intended to provide or be relied as a legal advice. This material is provided to serve as a reasonable compilation of the most current state scrap laws and is intended to be a resource or supplement to, and provide ideas for, compliance with all applicable laws. The ISRI State Scrap Laws are subject to change and readers should visit http://www.isri.org/metalstheftdb to make certain they are reading the most recent version of ISRI's summaries of the State Metals Theft Laws
Overview of Provisions (use the section titles to travel directly to that section)
Materials Covered and Other Definitions

"Regulated Metals Property" means any item composed primarily of Nonferrous Metals. Includes stainless steel beer kegs and items made of Ferrous Metal obtained from any Restricted Regulated Metals Property. Excludes aluminum beverage containers, used beverage containers, or similar.

"Ferrous Metals" means any metals containing significant quantities of iron or steel.

"Nonferrous Metals" means metals not containing significant quantities of iron or steel, but excludes "Precious Metals" (items containing gold, silver, or platinum; excludes chemicals or automotive, photographic, electrical, medical, or dental materials or electronic parts.)

"Restricted Regulated Metals Property" means the following as listed in Section 538.26(5)(b):

  • A manhole cover.
  • An electric light pole or other utility structure and its fixtures, wires, and hardware that are readily identifiable as connected to the utility structure.
  • A guard rail.
  • A street sign, traffic sign, or traffic signal and its fixtures and hardware.
  • Communication, transmission, distribution, and service wire from a utility, including copper or aluminum bus bars, connectors, grounding plates, or grounding wire;
  • A funeral marker or funeral vase.
  • A historical marker.
  • Railroad equipment, including, but not limited to, a tie plate, signal house, control box, switch plate, E clip, or rail tie junction
  • Any metal item that is observably marked upon reasonable inspection with any form of the name, initials, or logo of a governmental entity, utility company,cemetery, or railroad.
  • A copper, aluminum, or aluminum-copper condensing or evaporator coil, including its tubing or rods, from an air-conditioning or heating unit, excluding coils from window air-conditioning or heating units and motor vehicle air-conditioning or heating units.
  • An aluminum or stainless steel container or bottle designed to hold propane for fueling forklifts.
  • A stainless steel beer keg.
  • A catalytic converter or any nonferrous part of a catalytic converter unless purchased as part of a motor vehicle.
  • Metallic wire that has been burned in whole or in part to remove insulation.
  • A brass or bronze commercial valve or fitting, referred to as a “fire department connection and control valve” or an “FDC valve,” that is commonly used on structures for access to water for the purpose of extinguishing fires.
  • A brass or bronze commercial potable water backflow preventer valve that is commonly used to prevent backflow of potable water from commercial structures into municipal domestic water service systems.
  • A shopping cart.
  • A brass water meter.
  • A storm grate.
  • A brass sprinkler head used in commercial agriculture.
  • More than two lead-acid batteries, or any part or component thereof, in a single purchase or from the same individual in a single day.

"Personal Identification Card" means a valid Florida driver license, a Florida identification card issued by the Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or the equivalent issued by another state, a passport, or an employment authorization issued by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services that contains a photo and current address


Provisions impacting the purchase of Regulated Metals (but not Restricted Regulated Metals) do not apply to purchases from the following:

  • State registered charitable, philanthropic, religious, fraternal, civic, patriotic, social,or school-sponsored organizations or associations, or from any nonprofit;
  • A law enforcement officer acting in an official capacity;
  • A manufacturing, industrial, or other commercial vendor that generates Regulated Materials in the ordinary course of business.

If proof of such is presented to the Recycler:

  • A trustee in bankruptcy, executor, administrator, or receiver;
  • Any public official acting under judicial process or authority; or
  • A sale on the execution, or by virtue of any process issued by a court

This exemption impacts the Recordkeeping and Hold provisions as well as the $1,000 cash threshold for Regulated Metals in the Payment Restriction provision.


A Secondary Metals Recycler (Recycler) must either:

  • Maintain legible English paper and electronic records of all Regulated Metal purchases on forms and formats approved by the Dept. of Law Enforcement; or
  • An electronic database with the information required, along with an electronic oath of ownership with the Seller's electronic signature and an electronic image of the seller's right thumbprint. The information must be able to be printed in the image of the Dept. of Law Enforcement's form.

Records must include the following:

  • The Recycler's name and address;
  • The name, initials, or other identification of the individual entering the record;
  • The Date and Time of the transaction;
  • The weight, quantity, or volume, and a description of the type of Regulated Metals;
  • The amount of consideration given (note: amount of consideration is not to be included in daily electronic reports to law enforcement);
  • The distinctive number from the Seller's personal ID card;
  • A photo, video, or digital image of the Regulated Metals;
  • A photo, video, or similar likeness of the person receiving consideration with their facial features clearly visible.

The Deliverer's signed statement that they are the rightful owner or entitled to sell;

  • For Stainless Steel Beer Kegs, written documentation from the manufacturer that the Seller owns the keg or is an employee or agent of the manufacturer;

A description of the Seller / Deliverer, including:

  • Full Name, current residential address, workplace, and home and work phone numbers;
  • Height, weight, date of birth, race, gender, hair color, eye color, and any other identifying marks
  • Right thumbprint, free of smudges and smears
  • Vehicle Description, including make, model, and tag number of delivery vehicle and trailer;
  • Any other information required on the Dept. of Law Enforcement form;
Motor Vehicles

Recyclers that purchase a motor vehicle from a licensed salvage motor vehicle dealer or another Secondary Metals Recycler and that use a mechanical crusher to convert the vehicle to scrap must obtain the Seller's signed statement that they have surrendered the title to the Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or otherwise complied with titling requirements. Recyclers are not liable if they obtain and retain the signed statement.

Restricted Regulated Metal Property

A Recycler must obtain reasonable proof that the Seller of Restricted Regulated Metal:

  • Owns such property, with proof including a receipt, bill of sale, or similar, or;
  • Is authorized to sell on behalf of the property owner, with proof including a signed
    authorization letter on the owner's letterhead dated within 90 days of the sale

Records must be retained for no less than 3 years from the transaction date


After properly identifying themselves as a law enforcement officer, an officer may, during the Recycler's usual and customary business hours, inspect any and all purchased Regulated Metals Property and records in the Recycler's possession.


Electronic transaction records shall be electronically transmitted to the appropriate law enforcement official by 10 AM of the business day following the transaction. The electronic law enforcement report must not contain the price paid. Recyclers who provide electronic reports are not required to also deliver the original or paper copies; however, the official may request the Recycler make the original transaction form (including the price paid) available within 24 hours of receiving the a request.


15 calendar day hold upon receipt of a written hold notice from a law enforcement officer specifically identifying those items of Regulated Metal in the Recycler's possession believed stolen and subject to the notice. An officer may release the metal early. An officer may also extend the hold for 45 days from the receipt of a written extended hold notice. At the end of a hold period the Recycler may dispose of the property unless otherwise ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

A Recycler shall hold Regulated Metals after receiving a Petition for Return (see provision for more details) until the court determines the respective interests of the parties.

Payment Restrictions

$1,000 cash threshold for Regulated Metals; payment in excess shall be made by check issued and payable to the Seller for all except those listed in the Exemption provision.

No cash for Restricted Regulated Metals; payment shall be made by check or by electronic payment. Payment must be provided within 3 days of the transaction. Electronic payments shall be transmitted directly to the Seller's or Seller's employer's bank account. Checks shall be issued and payable to the Seller and mailed directly to the street address on their driver's license (no P.O. boxes); except that Sellers listed in the Exemption provision may receive the check at the time of purchase (a Seller acting under a court writ or process must be a Sheriff).

Purchase Restrictions

A Recycler may not purchase:

Regulated, Restricted Regulated, or Ferrous Metals:

  • from a Seller that does not transport the metals in a motor vehicle; or
  • From any location other than a fixed location;

Regulated Metals from a Seller who:

  • Uses a name other than their own name or registered business name;
  • Is younger than 18 years old; or
  • Is visibly or apparently under the influence of drugs
Hours of Operation

A Recycler may not purchase Regulated, Restricted Regulated, or Ferrous Metals between 7 PM and 7 AM.


A Recycler must register with the Department of Revenue and conspicuously display their registration at each recycling location. An application must list all recycling locations and pay an annual registration/renewal fee of $6 per location in addition to other processing costs. An applicant that is a natural person must include a complete set of law enforcementcertified fingerprints for a background check. All partners of a partnership must make individual applications. A corporation must include the name and address of their registered agent and a certified statement that they are duly organized or certified to do business in Florida. The Dept. of Revenue shall release the name and address of a registered Recycler upon request to a law enforcement official with jurisdiction.

Petition for Return of Stolen Property

If a Recycler contests an identification or ownership of Regulated Metals, the party claiming ownership of stolen goods may bring an action for replevin provided a timely report of the theft was made to the proper authorities. The court may award the prevailing party

reasonable attorney's fees and cost. A Recycler shall hold Regulated Metals after receiving a Petition for Return until the court determines the respective interests of the parties


A Recycler that knowingly and intentionally fails to maintain transaction records is presumed to know the metal was stolen. A Recycler who knowingly or intentionally violates the Inspection, Hold, Recordkeeping, Reporting, or Registration provisions is guilty of a 3rd degree felony, or a 2nd degree felony for a 3rd or subsequent offense. A person acting as a Recycler who is not registered commits a 3rd degree felony.

A person who knowingly gives false verification of ownership or false or altered identification and receives consideration from a Recycler for Regulated Metal commits:

  • If the consideration is less than $300, a 3rd degree felony;
  • If the consideration is $300 or more, a 2nd degree felony.

If a lawful owner recovers stolen Regulated Metals from a Dealer who complied with the law and the Seller is convicted of theft, a violation of this law, or dealing in stolen property, the defendant shall make full restitution to the Recycler including legal and other expenses.

The Dept. of Revenue may impose up to a $10,000 civil fine for each knowing and intentional violation of the Registration provision. Registration may also be denied, revoked, restricted, or suspended, for any of the following in the previous 24 months:

  • Convicted of knowingly and intentionally violating provisions of the Act, making a material false statement in their application, or engaging in a fraudulent act in connection with the purchase or sale of Regulated Metal;
  • Convicted or plead guilty or nolo contendere to a felony involving theft, larceny,dealing in stolen property, receiving stolen property, burglary, embezzlement,obtaining property by false pretenses, possession of altered property, or any felony drug offense or of knowingly and intentionally violating the Registration provision;
  • Failure or refusal to pay sales tax owed within 30 days of receiving written notice from the Dept. of Revenue of failure to pay.

If the Recycler has not had their registration penalized in the previous 24 months, they will have a 12 month probationary period instead. If the Recycler's registration is penalized again during probation, both the original and new penalty shall be immediately reinstated.

Under Section 812.145, Theft of Copper or Other Nonferrous Metals:

  • A person who knowingly and intentionally takes nonferrous metals from a utility or communications service provider and thereby causes damages to a facility or interrupts or interferes with services or the ability to provide service commits a 1st degree felony. A person found in a civil action to have illegally taken nonferrous metals based on a violation of the above provision is liable to the utility or communications service provider for damages equal to 3 times the actual damages sustained by the provider due to any personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage caused by the theft, or three times any claim made against the utility or provider for personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage caused by malfunctions resulting from the violation, whichever is greater.
  • A person who knowingly and intentionally removes nonferrous metals from an electrical substation without the utility's authorization commits a 1st degree felony.

Under Section 812.146, Civil Liability of Owner of Metal Property, a public or private owner of metal property is not civilly liable to:

  • A person injured during the theft or attempted theft of the metal property, or
  • A person whose injuries were caused by a dangerous condition created as a result of the theft or attempted theft of the owner's metal property when the owner did not know and could not have reasonably known of the dangerous condition.

The Hold provision "preempts municipal or county ordinances enacted after December 31, 2008, relating specifically to secondary metals recyclers holding such metals."

State law preempts ordinances or regulations relating to the purchase or sale of Regulated Metals Property or registration or licensure of Recyclers, unless the ordinance or regulation was originally enacted before March 1, 2012. Such may subsequently be amended to incorporate any state provisions. Does not apply to a county until July 1, 2013

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This summary of State Metals Theft Laws is being viewed on this website under license and is owned and copyrighted by Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. ("ISRI"),1615 L Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036.