Are Metal Thefts back at the same levels prior to the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013?

Trace-in-Metal looks at recent media coverage which suggests that the figures are back where they started. 

Metal theft continues to spark headlines across the UK, and as we approach the 2nd anniversary of the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, (SMD Act 2013) the Trace-in-Metal team took a look at some of the stories making the headlines.

Figures were released recently by Vacant Property Specialists, (April 2015) who protect premises that are temporarily void or vacant. Their data, released under the headline “Losing your Mettle: Is the Law failing to stand up to Metal Theft?” states that “analysis shows metal theft on the rise again after a dip following new laws.”

The article highlights analysis which shows that incidence of metal thefts reported in the media was back at the same level as before the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. The analysis – still in its draft form - discovered that prior to the October 2013 Act, metal thefts were being reported in the media at rates of 400-500 a month. In the 12 months that followed the Act, these reports dramatically reduced to around 200-300 per month. However in February and March this year, the figures have leapt back to an average of over 400

The act was meant to cut metal theft which peaked in 2011/2012 when copper prices were high and UK businesses alone were experiencing over 1,000 such thefts a week, with an annual haul of 60,000 metal thefts reported.

Within recent weeks the following metal thefts have hit the headlines:

CHURCH members have been left heartbroken after around £20,000 worth of lead was stolen from the Derbyshire church roof. Pictured

A group of Fife primary schools have been targeted by metal thieves as part of a worrying surge in the crime. It follows similar thefts from Kettle Primary earlier in the month, as well as from a church in Pittenweem High Street.

The two Lincolnshire churches were attacked over the same weekend and a large quantity of lead, some of which has been treated with Trace-in-Metal was stolen.

They struck at the grade one listed Church of St Michael the Archangel. Vicar the Rev Michael Jackson said there was a "palpable sense of distress" among the community.

Lead torn from the roof of the Lymphoedema Treatment Centre and Education, Training and Fundraising Centre, in a callous raid estimated to cost £20,000.

Copper Cable also continues to attract thieves, as this recent Crimestoppers campaign highlights.

      Continuing problems of theft of live high voltage transmission cable

A hotspot feared being targeted by Organised Crime Groups, reports repeated attacks leaving homes without power.

Before the introduction of the SMD Act, the figures had reached almost epidemic levels, and the government funded a police task force specifically to reduce this crime. Once the Act was introduced, the funding dried up, and any proactivity has been lost. There will have been some residual momentum, and it will be interesting to see how the figures respond over the coming months.

What is clear is that the crime is back in the headlines.

John Minary, Managing Director of Trace-in-Metal said, “Proactivity in the form of the Metal Theft Task Force was always going to result in reductions. What is clear now is that with the pressure on the criminals being released, the SMD Act alone is not sufficient to reduce this very serious crime.”

He continued, “The SMD Act has strengthen licensing and taken cash out of the system. Traceability of the metal, and having the ability to connect metal to transactions remains the missing link. The Trace-in-Metal system gives the recyclers this ability.”

“It helps dealers to get on with their day job of reprocessing legitimate metal, without the worry of getting caught up with stolen metals. It keeps metal where it belongs, on roofs or providing vital infrastructure. Trace-in-Metal makes stolen metal #2hot2handle.”

The Press Release from the Vacant Property Specialists can be found by following this LINK