West Yorkshire Police has seen an 18 per cent increase in theft of Yorkshire stone in the last year with many such crimes taking place during the day.
Leeds City Council has also reported having had to replace £50,000 of stone stolen from the city’s pavements, a 50 per cent rise from last year.
The figures have prompted Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland to table a parliamentary Early Day Motion in which he has expressed concern at the crimewave which is seeing stone stolen from across Yorkshire, with schools, homes, farms and churches all being targeted by thieves.
Mr Mulholland wants a dedicated stone theft taskforce to be set up, similar to the National Metal Theft Taskforce, with stronger fines and sentences. His Early Day Motion also calls for a national awareness-raising campaign for households and businesses to check where their stone is from.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is backing his calls for a crack down on stone thefts.
Dorothy Fairburn, the CLA’s regional director for the North, said: “We strongly agree with Mr Mulholland that this is a real issue in rural Yorkshire and our region’s heritage is being placed under threat.
“The CLA fought hard to introduce tougher legislation in the battle against metal theft, which led to an immediate 40 per cent fall in the number of offences. It would appear that criminals have now moved their attention to stone as a new target.”
Chris Joyce, force crime prevention officer at West Yorkshire Police, said: “Yorkshire stone can be targeted due to its value and I’d like to urge people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity, noting descriptions of individuals and vehicles that may be involved in this type of crime.
“Not all offences will take place during the hours of darkness, so please keep a look out for anything that may appear suspicious during the day too. It’s important that we protect our heritage in West Yorkshire and do all that we can to disrupt the activity of offenders.”
He added, “I would ask anyone who has information about stone theft, or has perhaps been offered Yorkshire Stone in suspicious circumstances, to contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.”