Police campaign targets metal thieves

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Metal thieves are being targeted today in a nationwide operation involving dozens of police forces.

The BBC reports 38 forces have teamed up for the crackdown on a crime said to be costing the economy £360 million every year.

Scrapyards and suspected transporters of metal are being targeted in the two-day operation, which began yesterday.

The broadcaster says theft of metal has risen by 150 per cent in the last two years after demand from emerging countries such as China and India caused prices to rocket.

The Association of Chief Police Officers' says metal theft is not a victimless crime, and highlights incidents such as communities losing power after thieves targeted electricity substations and a house exploding after gas copper tubing was stolen.

Drain covers, lead from church roofs and railway signal cables are some of the thieves' most common targets.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Crowther of British Transport Police told the broadcaster: "Thousands of people have seen their community facilities stolen or damaged by thieves looking for a quick gain, or have suffered service disruption to railways and telecoms.

"The problem ranges from opportunistic to large-scale organised theft. This has a huge impact across the country - not just financially, but in people's everyday lives.

"By removing the market for stolen metals, the theft becomes much less attractive and so we are encouraging scrap metal dealers to be particularly vigilant in reporting to police if they suspect metals have been stolen."