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Scrap theft up 25% in England and Wales

A total of 16 552 incidents of metal theft were reported in England and Wales in 2018. New figures from the Office for National Statistics say this is a 25% increase compared to the previous year.

Continued metal theft has had a ‘severe impact’ on the delivery of rail services last year. Network Rail urges there was a 85% increase in live railway cable theft, resulting in more than 950 hours of delays in England, Wales and Scotland. The thefts affected more than 7000 journeys and cost taxpayers ‘millions’.

‘We work with police forces nationally to root out metal crime and ensure that thieves are identified and brought before the courts,’ comments British Transport Police superintendent Mark Cleland. He stresses: ‘A big part of tackling this issue is identifying thieves and the scrap metal dealers who continue to trade in stolen property. We have a number of active investigations up and down the nation investigating dealers such as these.’

The authorities are trying to curb metal theft by:

  • funding British Transport Police officers
  • using CCTV to alert us that people are on the network and to support the police
  • installing new ways of securing cables
  • using forensic marking agents
  • introducing cables which are harder to steal and easier to identify
  • setting up a dedicated security team

Also, the Scrap Metal Dealers Act of 2013 gives police officers the power by court order to close unlicensed scrap yards.

Scrap trader Paul McFadyen (ceo of Metals4U) is grateful action is being taken to prevent future thefts. But he finds the figures alarming and says they prove ‘there is plenty of work to be done.’ The entrepreneur is calling on the government to allocate more resources to tackling the issue on a regional level. ‘And we’re encouraging members of the public to do their bit by following Network Rail’s advice and reporting all suspicious behaviour.’

Who do you call?

  • British Transport Police: 0800 40 50 40
  • Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111
  • Or text 61016

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