Epidemic of rural metal thefts

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THE theft of metal from farms and rural businesses has grown to epidemic proportions according to landowners in the East Midlands who have now thrown their weight behind a Private Member’s Bill which will attempt to thwart the sale of stolen metal.

“Scrap metal is currently big business and it’s no longer restricted to the theft of lead from the church roof,” said Andrew Shirley, leader of Northamptonshire-based rural watchdog, the CLA.

“Now it’s overhead cables, copper of all kinds - which affect the telecommunications and electricity supply industries - and even barbed wire and other fencing has been stripped out for the value of the scrap.”

Lancashire MP Graham Jones brought his Metal Theft (Protection) Bill before the House of Commons recently and the CLA, says it offers a solution to the problem.

Mr Jones says that the reason this type of crime is flourishing is because the regulatory framework surrounding metal recycling is so weak and that, in combination with the elevated international price of metal, effectively creates an incentive to steal.

“Farmyards and rural businesses have always been a prime target for robberies and landowners are currently suffering an epidemic of metal theft,” said Mr Shirley.

“Mr Jones’s planned changes to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 and his other proposals are essential if this blight is to be ended quickly and effectively.”

The CLA is asking its members in the region for case studies of metal theft to help in its lobbying. Examples can be sent to: info.eastmidlands@cla.org.uk