It takes a special person, probably with a serious drug addiction, to steal an urn and sell it for the metal.

Unfortunately, it’s become an issue in Hawaii, as it has in New Jersey, Alaska and other states.

The Hawaii Legislature has decided to tackle it this session by giving it the same treatment it did to combat the theft of copper and beer kegs.

Hawaii lawmakers are tackling the theft of urns this session.
Hawaii lawmakers are tackling the theft of urns this session. Flickr: Marcy Leigh

House Bill 1578 makes the theft of an urn a Class C felony.

It also requires someone trying to sell an urn to a scrap dealer to provide a copy of a receipt that describes the item being offered for sale, who issued the receipt, the date of the sale and the price.

If someone tries to sell an urn without a receipt, the proposed law requires scrap dealers to report it to police. Scrap dealers also have to take photos of any urn that is purchased, and must verify the seller’s identity.

House and Senate lawmakers are hammering out the final language of the bill. Reps. Angus McKelvey and Karl Rhoads are co-chairing the conference committee for the House side and Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran is chairing the Senate side. Their next meeting is 1:45 p.m. Friday in conference room 016 at the Capitol.

Hawaii residents Lisa Wond and Traci Aki shared their personal stories last month with lawmakers about how the theft of their relatives’ urns impacted their lives.

“In June of 2015, thieves broke into the gravesite of my grandfather, grandmother, aunt, and and uncle and stole their urns,” Aki said in her testimony. “My cousin took matters in his own hands and found out that the thieves had taken the urns to Reynolds Recycling. They received a mere $31 for the urns.

“The ashes had been dumped somewhere prior to them taking the urns to the recycling center,” she said. “Now the ashes are gone forever. My family was very disturbed and upset that the remains of our loved ones were taken and discarded as if they were meaningless. My relatives now have nowhere to visit, to pay their respects to the deceased family members. It was CUSTOMARY for my relatives to visit the gravesite at certain times of the year. Now, there is nothing left at the grave.”

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