Metal theft ‘not worth the effort’ say police

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CRIME doesn’t pay – that’s the message British Transport Police (BTP) is hoping to send out to prospective metal thieves across the region.

Today sees a national “day of action” to tackle the crime, which has seen a 27 per cent increase in the BTP’s north east region – which runs from Nottingham to the Scotish border – between April and October, compared with the same period last year.

BTP officers say they want to spread the message that cable thefts provide little profit for criminals.

Detective Inspector Mick Jackson, who heads dedicated cable team Operation Leopard, said: “The simple truth is that cable thieves do not make huge amounts of money from the metal they are able to steal. In fact, when you consider the risks thieves take to steal the cable, it simply isn’t worth the effort.

“Anyone who seeks to steal railway cable risks serious injury – or even death – through electrocution and, because of where the cable is situated, faces the prospect of being struck by a train.

“Whilst thieves may think they will get good money for stolen metal because of the increased price of copper, the truth is that unscrupulous scrap metal dealers will not pass on that increase to the thieves.

“Historically thieves will only get a fraction of the value of the metal they take whilst it is the few recyclers prepared to ignore the law who reap the benefits when they sell the metal on.”

British Transport Police is working with organisations including Network Rail to try to bring the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 up-to-date and to clamp down further on the thieves.

Officers are also dealing with the British Metal Recycling Authority, to educate scrap metal recyclers about what to look out for when people bring various metals and cables into yards to sell.

West Yorkshire Police and other police forces say they will be involved in a major regional multi-agency operation to support the day of action.