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PHOENIX -- Police are scrambling to keep up with the rising number of metal thefts in Arizona.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Darren Burch said metal thieves have hit home air conditioning units, freeway lights, digital billboards and cell phone towers, among other things. There's only so much a homeowner can do to prevent being ripped off.

"We've had people who've popped into a grocery store for a few minutes and come out to find the catalytic converter stolen from the car," he said. "There are things we can do to minimize the thefts. Don't leave ladders in your yard that the thieves can use to reach your home air conditioning units. Don't post your every move on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter."

Metal theft has become such a problem that state lawmakers are considering legislation that will make metal theft that endangers lives a Class 2 felony, the second-highest level of a felony crime in the state and equal to second-degree murder.

HB 2262, authored by Rep. Tom Forese, would require scrap metal dealers to register with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Those who refuse would be put out of business.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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