(a) (1) Any junk dealer or recycler who possesses a fire hydrant, fire department connection, including, but not limited to, brass fittings and parts, manhole cover or lid or part of that cover or lid, or backflow device or connection to that device or part of that device without a written certification from the agency or utility owning or previously owning the material shall be liable to the agency or utility for the wrongful possession of that material as provided in subdivision (b).
(2) A written certification under this subdivision shall be on the agency’s or utility’s letterhead and shall certify both that the agency or utility has sold the material described or is offering the material for sale, salvage, or recycling, and that the person possessing the certification or identified in the certification is authorized to negotiate the sale of that material.
(b) Except as provided in subdivision (c), a junk dealer or recycler in violation of this section shall be liable to the agency or utility owning or previously owning the prohibited material as described in subdivision (a) for the actual damages incurred by the agency or utility, including the value of the material, the cost of replacing the material, labor costs, and the costs of repairing any damage caused by the removal of the material. The court shall also award exemplary damages of three times the actual damages incurred by the agency or utility, unless the court decides that extenuating circumstances do not justify awarding these exemplary damages.
(c) (1) A junk dealer or recycler who unknowingly takes possession of one or more of the materials described in subdivision (a) as part of a load of otherwise nonprohibited materials without the written certification described in subdivision (a) shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency by the end of the next business day upon discovery of the prohibited materials. Written confirmation of that notice shall relieve the junk dealer or recycler of liability to the agency or utility for the possession of those materials.
(2) The following definitions shall apply for purposes of this subdivision:
(A) “Appropriate law enforcement agency” means, in the case of any material described in subdivision (a) that is located within the territorial limits of an incorporated city, the police chief of the city or his or her designee, or, in the case of any material described in subdivision (a) that is located outside the territorial limits of an incorporated city, the sheriff of the county or his or her designee.
(B) “Written confirmation” means any confirmation received from the law enforcement agency as electronic mail, facsimile, or other written correspondence, including, but not limited to, a letter delivered in person or by certified mail.
(d) Nothing in this section is intended to create a basis for liability on the part of the junk dealers and recyclers to third parties for damages or injuries related to or arising from the theft of the materials described in this section.
(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 393, Sec. 2. (SB 1045) Effective January 1, 2013.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018