The introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act in October 2013 was seen as the answer to this pernicious crime, and with lead prices now rising, fuelled mainly by the demands for the production of batteries worldwide, it is clearly not working as it should.
It is fair to say that the current counter-measures in place are failing. The recycling industry, charged with taking an important role in satisfying global demand need to be able to differentiate between legitimate and stolen materials.
In the UK lead recycling is a very small proportion of the overall business, about 8%, but the impacts of the theft of the material is devastating. Removing lead from buildings, does little to its scrap value, a ton of lead is a ton of lead, and represents legitimate business for the recycling industry. Yet there would seem to be little doubt that stolen lead gets laundered through the legitimate recycling industry.
Trace-in-Metal indelibly marks lead for the life of the metal with forensic tags that survive the temperatures used in recycling. This revolutionary new system allows easy identification of the metal throughout the metals recycling ‘food chain’ and at a roadside. Combined with a unique e.alert system which notifies dealers and partner agencies if lead gets stolen, it removes any defence of ignorance.
Pictured: St John the Baptist, Inglesham Attacked by Callous Lead Theives, in April.
The trust's conservation projects manager Meriel O’Dowd said: "We are absolutely devastated to discover such a large lead theft at one of our most beautiful, loved and historically significant churches.