GASTONIA, N.C. -- Family portraits - these are not. There's the guy posing with an oven, another one posing next to a pile of cans, and another posing with a car.
They are all being forced to "say cheese" thanks to a law that says scrap metal yards have to document -- and photograph -- everyone -- and everything that comes into the yard-- and not everything is allowed in. Like manhole covers.
“It specifically states any utility access cover cannot be sold for recycling,” says Steven Gilbert, pointing to the law he has to follow at the Charlotte scrap metal yard he owns.
That's why he was surprised when we told him someone had stolen dozens of manhole covers from Gastonia.
“We only can accept material like that if we speak directly to a contractor, we know what job it’s coming from. We don’t accept those materials from individuals, and we verify any materials brought in for recycling purposes.”
Someone stole 22 of the covers near an industrial park that runs along the Gastonia city sewer line, and another 13 behind a subdivision.
At $70 a pop, it's an expense the city would rather not deal with, and a theft that shouldn't technically pay off.
Gilbert says, “It makes me think that some recyclers are not following the regulations because manhole covers are specifically cited.”
Meaning the next time some peddlers are mugging for the cameras, it may be for an actual mug shot.