Thieves target metal for scrap
CRIMINALS are stealing more and more metal objects from the county s historic churches, manhole covers from the roads, and any other metal that can be sold for scrap. Cambridgeshire Police have said they are determined to crack down on the criminals targe
CRIMINALS are stealing more and more metal objects from the county's historic churches, manhole covers from the roads, and any other metal that can be sold for scrap.
Cambridgeshire Police have said they are determined to crack down on the criminals targeting the area through a new campaign, codenamed Operation Outback.
Last year, there were 378 offences in the county, including the theft of £40,000 of industrial drums of copper cable, 250 yards of electrical cabling, bronze statues from gravestones, and copper piping.
In addition the thieves have been tearing lightning conductors from tall buildings, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage; one church in St Neots was left with a £20,000 repair bill.
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Chief Inspector Adrian Hutchinson said: "This campaign is not just about the theft of thousands of pounds worth of metal, but also about the disruption to people's lives in Cambridgeshire.
"People could be affected getting to work because the railway line has been disrupted or you might not be able to make a phone call because the mobile phone mast has been targeted by thieves."
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It is believed an increase in demand for raw materials in the Far East, which has led to a rise in the value of metals, is behind the surge in thefts. Particularly high on the criminals hit list is copper.
Scrap metal depots, plumbing centres and builder's merchants in particular are being targeted.
Officers will be visiting scrap metal dealers to raise awareness of crime and disrupt the sale of illegally sourced metals.