Action call over metal thefts rise

Police in the North East saw a sharp rise in reports of metal thefts in the last year – with fears of more to come because of the cost of living crisis.

Metal thefts increase.
Metal thefts increase.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows Northumbria Police recorded 475 metal theft offences in 2021-22 – up from 340 the year before.

Of the thefts, 180 were ‘infrastructure-related’ – including stripping roofing lead from buildings, taking electricity or railway cables, or stealing vehicle parts.

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The rises coincides with a rise in metal prices on the world market.

The AA warned that the theft of valuable car parts rises when household budgets are squeezed.

In England and Wales, 30,100 metal thefts were recorded last year – up from 19,000 a year earlier, and the highest number since 2013-14.

Rates of metal theft fell from 2012/13 – around the time the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, brought in to crack down on the trade in stolen metal, was introduced.

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The Local Government Association is calling for the Government to introduce an offence within the Scrap Metal Dealers Act for receiving cash for scrap metal, as well as specific funding to support enforcement to help local authorities.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “When there is a squeeze on household budgets, sadly crimes such as metal and car part theft rise.

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"The two main reasons are the steady price in scrap metal values and thieves selling parts on the black market.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are giving police the resources they need to keep us safe, including by recruiting 20,000 extra officers.”