Scrap cash ban urged to halt metal theft

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Calls for reform of the scrap metal industry are growing louder as Yorkshire businesses count the cost of metal theft, the region’s fastest-growing crime.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has begun a campaign urging the Government to ban cash sales at scrapyards.

It comes a month after the Yorkshire Post revealed that the Home Office, senior police and other Government departments were considering such a move.

The CLA said its members, who own and manage more than 250 different types of rural business, had seen an increase in thefts in Yorkshire.

The association’s Yorkshire regional director, Dorothy Fairburn, 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 repairing and replacing stolen lead and other metals.

“Thefts from heritage buildings are particularly expensive and time-consuming for owners because the building is made difficult or impossible to insure in the future.

“Banning cash sales would prevent anonymous sales because the metal could always be traced back to the person who sold it to the dealer.

“This is how France, Belgium and parts of the United States have clamped down on metal theft.”

Miss Fairburn said that, of the scrap metal industry’s £5bn turnover, an estimated £1bn was carried out in cash.

“Something must be done to curb the crime and take the cash out of scrap.”

Police believe the high number of cash transactions in scrapyards makes the metal recycling industry attractive to criminals seeking to launder money and avoid paying tax.

Sweeping changes are likely to be resisted by the British Metals Recycling Association, which says authorities are failing to properly enforce existing laws to combat the problem.