Metal Theft has been a reoccurring problem since back in 2011, and when the spike of copper pricing increased, a new crime wave caused both public and private properties throughout the country to be targeted by immoral metal-thieves.
When most people think of metal theft, they image the victims to mainly be at construction sites. And, this assumption can be understood; construction sites are extremely difficult to keep secure and often contain a trove of many different materials, which are often ready-packaged. Although, an industry-wide lackness in security practices makes the job of the thief even easier. While the majority of metal thefts take place on construction sites, metal can also be found elsewhere.
Gravestones are sometimes connected with plates made from bronze and other valuable metals, and the same goes for war memorials. Although, one might assume it would be safe on the grounds of moral decency. There is, as the saying goes, no honour among thieves. Churches contain no form of extra security and often falls them victim to metal theft. Besides the contents of their cemeteries, their roofs are often made from lead, which also contributes to their additional finds.
In particular, the cables for railway lines to function are often left lying beside the track whilst repair work is taking place. Fortunately, this sort of crime is showing signs of falling, largely because of precautionary security measures being used around railway lines now, and therefore protecting them effectively from any metal thief.
So, What Is Being Done?
Whilst there can be little doubt that metal theft is a big problem, it is now decreasing in the UK, both as a by-product of a more general fall in crime, but also because of measures which have been put into place by the Government, which is designed specifically to target those that might seek to deal in stolen metal and those who might unwillingly do so.
Also, another contributing aspect is the keenness of property owners to take security more seriously, and the array of technology which will now allow them to do so. These days, cameras and alarms have never been so advanced, or cheaper than they are today.
The Legislation Might Not Be Perfect
However, through these promising facts, the conference found that the legislation had a number of failings, which if they are amended might overall make it more effective. And, of these complaints perhaps the strongest surrounds the power which fails to grant the police… Who still cannot search people who leave a scrap metal site for cash.
Whilst the legislation specifies that no one with a criminal conviction that is related to scrap metal theft can obtain a license to deal in scrap metal, there is no such restriction on other sorts of criminal. This means that criminals can easily obtain a license and occupy the space vacated by the criminal’s scrap-metal dealers.
The legislation Does Not Apply in Other Countries
Of course, parliament cannot make laws that apply to foreign countries. Even Scotland is unaffected by the legislation. This means that metal can simply be shipped across the border, where it can be sold more easily. Shipping large quantities of metal, however, is troublesome. Metal theft, as an activity, has moved from the control of smaller gangs into larger, better organised criminal networks.
Such networks have the resources to move large quantities of metal outside of the country, where it can be sold without having to follow the legislation, affecting England and Wales.
Moreover, such networks possess the resources to employ clever people to spend time reading government legislation and to anticipate any opportunities it might present. The port authorities have precious little power to stop this activity: the volume of goods flowing through UK ports is so enormous that only 0.5% of the containers can be checked and so this sort of crime is remarkably difficult to monitor and prevent.
This demonstrates that the solution to the problem is that the international community must co-operate to address and enforce it effectively. Unfortunately, co-operating with other nations in this way takes a great deal of time and effort, particularly if the problem is felt more seriously by one country than another.
In the meantime, businesses which are vulnerable to metal theft are encouraged to prioritise their own internal security arrangements. Through adopting best practices and procedures and through the practical use of technology, vulnerable metal can be safeguarded and the threat of metal theft reduced.