Psst! Wanna Buy a Bridge?
A Louisiana law that took effect in August (Act 389 [pdf]) seeks to prevent the sale of stolen bridges by outlawing cash transactions in used goods. Secondhand dealers are also required to record the IDs of all buyers.
On its surface Act 389 addresses a real and growing problem. As the recession deepens and the prices of commodities soar, the theft of goods — like copper from construction sites — has increased dramatically and everywhere. For example, this month two brothers in Pennsylvania were charged with stealing a 50-by-20-foot bridge and selling “the 15 1/2 tons of scrap metal for more than $5,000.”
It is difficult, however, to view the Act as anything other than a tyrannical tax grab. It is deliberately so broad as to explicitly include “pictures, objects of art, clothing,” tools, automobile parts and electronics (such as radios). In short, thrift stores, flea markets, eBay, and yard sales are deliberately included; all they need to do is sell more than one item a month to be a covered business.