ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP)Sen. Charles Schumer says the federal government needs to crack down on the problem of scrap metal theft.

Schumer, D-N.Y., on Sunday is calling for federal regulations on scrap metal sales, including a requirement that scrap yards and recyclers maintain detailed records on their purchases, and require those selling metal to provide documentation.

The senator is also calling for the creation of a new federal crime of stealing metal from critical infrastructure like railroads.

Schumer cited the recent theft of copper cable from New York City subway lines as one example of what he says is a national problem.

Scrap metal theft has risen over the past decade as thieves look to cash in on rising metal prices.

On Wednesday, thieves stole 500 feet of valuable copper wire from 12 different locations along MTA subway tracks near Howard Beach, Queens, causing A and C trains to lose power and disrupting commutes for thousands of people.

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