Group weighs in to fight metal theft

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A COUNTRYSIDE organisation has thrown its weight behind moves to get cash taken out of scrap metal dealing to help stop the increase of metal theft in rural areas.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is backing the Metal Theft (Protection) Bill proposed by Graham Jones MP which aims to stop cash payments for scrap metal. It has also welcomed the Government’s plan to establish a £5million national taskforce to tackle metal theft.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said: “Stolen metal is being traded too easily within the scrap metal industry. Hundreds of CLA members have been victims of metal theft, with some losing thousands of pounds by repairing and replacing stolen lead and other metals. Thefts from heritage buildings are particularly expensive for owners to replace because local authorities and English Heritage have to agree on suitable alternatives.

Angus Collingwood-Cameron, CLA North East Director, added: “This campaign is very pertinent to the North East as this region is notorious for metal theft.

“Empty properties are being stripped of copper, metal field gates and animal feeders are disappearing overnight. Manhole covers, cabling and cast iron signs are thieved from the most obscure places. Any move to tackle this scourge is welcome.”

Earlier this month it was announced that new measures to combat the increasing problem of metal theft are being introduced in the North East.

Operation Tornado, spearheaded by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Home Office, British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), British Transport Police (BTP), and Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police, will aim to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme.

ACPO spokesman Chief Inspector Robin Edwards said: “As of January 3, 2012, those selling scrap metal to participating dealers in Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland will now be required to provide proof of their identity by producing either a photo card driving license including an address, or a passport or national ID card supported with a utility bill, which must be under three months old and show their address.

“This will remain in place for six months initially with the option to extend the term of the trial as it progresses.”