Metal thieves - your time is up
12 October 2012
ROGUE scrap dealers across the West Midlands are getting their final warnings today (Friday 12 October) ahead of new laws being passed to ban cash trading.
Officers working as part of Operation Tornado – the national drive to tackle metal theft – are visiting scrap yards throughout the Black Country in a bid to tighten control on those businesses which illegally trade in stolen goods.
Today’s action comes as metal theft continues to fall across the region. Since the start of the year the number of offences reported has more than halved compared to the same period in 2011, whilst police continue to crack down on thieves and handlers. Last month a convicted thief was handed a suspended jail sentence and banned from scrap yards across the country after breaking into a scrap yard in Smethwick.
Detective Inspector Gordon Roberts, lead for the regional metal theft reduction team, said: “We may have seen some great reductions in crime so far this year but that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels.
“Rogue dealers and thieves continue to operate and continued pressure on those suspected of committing crime is the only way to stop more people from becoming victims.
“Today is all about continuing our efforts to stop offenders from having ready access to dealers who accept their wares, no questions asked, and the new legislation can only help with that.”
Soon to be made changes to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act will outlaw all cash transactions at metal recycling yards across England and Wales and there will be a significant increase in fines for those dealers who fail to abide by the rules.
ACPO lead on metal theft Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “For some time police forces and colleagues across several industries have called for tougher legislation in respect of metal theft.
“The revision of the LASPO Act will provide us with the first significant change in metal recycling legislation since 1964.
“The measures introduced will seriously curtail the market for stolen metal as there will now be a clear audit trail back to those bringing commodities into recycling yards and severe sanctions for those who step out of line.”
Railway cable, power cable, communication lines and street furniture have all been taken by criminals across the country looking to exploit the cash-based system at disreputable dealers.
Police and partners have expended a huge amount of energy working to educate dealers on identifying the signs that metal has been stolen, as well as introducing schemes to make life more difficult for those dealers willing to operate outside of the law. Despite this metal has remained a viable target for criminals, who have proven they are not averse to plundering even the most sentimental targets such as graveyards and war memorials.
It is hoped that this latest day of action, coupled with the announcement of tougher legislation, will finally drive home the message that metal theft will no longer pay.
DCC Crowther added: “Time is up for the thieves who continue to steal from our infrastructure and communities.
“The day of action will see police and partners across the UK taking positive action against thieves: paying visits to scrap metal recyclers to remind them of their responsibilities and working together with communities to drive home the message that metal theft is socially unacceptable.”
Minister for Crime Prevention Jeremy Browne said: “The Government is taking urgent action to tackle metal and cable theft head on. As a first step we are introducing a ban on cash payments by scrap metal dealers, this will remove the ‘no questions asked’ cash payments which are a key driver for metal thieves and rogue dealers.
“We are also significantly increasing the fines for all offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act, and providing police officers with sufficient powers of entry to tackle illegal trading in metal yards.
“But new laws must be supported by effective enforcement so I welcome the success the police have already achieved to crack down on these unscrupulous thieves and rogue dealers.”