Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Copper thieves - let's hope they burnt.
Rising metal prices have fuelled a spate of thefts of copper pipes and boilers by a specialist gang.Homes, businesses, churches and schools in Tameside are being targeted. The metal is then sold to legitimate dealers.In Dukinfield, 190 copper pipes, a boiler and metal sheeting were stolen in one week.The price of copper has quadrupled in four years to about £4,000 a tonne.Police spokesman Sgt Joanne Glynn said: "Some of these incidents are happening in broad daylight and we think a van is used by the thieves, giving the impression that they are genuine workmen. The stolen metal is then being sold on to scrap metal dealers. We have also seen an increase in thefts from scrap metal yards indicating that they could be stealing from one dealer to sell to another."Police are working with local scrap metal dealers and have urged the public to report suspicious gangs. Sgt Glynn said: "We need the community to be our eyes and ears on this."The gang have targeted many homes run by the New Charter Housing Trust and the organisation is working with the police to protect its residents.Director of property services Steve Nettleton said: "Not only have these items been stolen, our tenants' homes have been damaged."Some tenants have returned after work to find their home burgled with the piping stripped out. We plan to replace the stolen pipes with non metallic alternatives."The increase in metal thefts reflects the rising value of scrap. The scrap metal industry is worth £4bn a year and the British Metals Recycling Association says half of all new metal is made from scrap.The London Metal Exchange said that the rise in prices was due to a `whole raft of factors', including increased consumption of raw materials by China and India.The theft of copper is also hitting rail commuters, by causing delays to train services.Dyan Crowther, of Network Rail, said: "Our failsafe system means that any cut cable turns all signals in the area to red and brings nearby trains to a halt."The theft of railway cable in Greater Manchester and Merseyside has cost Network Rail £750,000 since 2004.Supt Peter Holden, of the transport police, said the thefts were the biggest challenge after terrorism. The police have launched Operation Drum to combat thefts in hotspots like Heywood, Miles Platting and Cheadle.