Metal theft costing taxpayer thousands

A SURGE in metal thefts across East Cambridgeshire is costing local taxpayers thousands of pounds and could be putting residents at risk of severe injury, the district’s police chief has warned.

In little more than a month since taking up his post as sector inspector for East Cambridgeshire, Robin Sissons has already seen more than �10,000 worth of metal stolen and the inspector is calling on the public to help clamp down on the thieves.

“Since being here I have seen 40 gully covers stolen, which will cost the taxpayer 10k to replace, as well as a host of other items, said Insp Sissons.

“These criminals have no morals either as they will steal from anyone including the young.”

Already in his short tenure, Insp Sissons has seen 40 manhole covers stolen along with lead from church and school roofing and even a brass sundial from Soham’s memorial cemetery garden, valued at about �250.

In the last week alone, lead has been taken from the Holy Trinity Church in Haddenham and St Lawrence’s Church in Wicken.

Insp Sissons said other thefts had taken place in Sutton, Witcham, Soham, Stretham, and Fordham, highlighting the widespread nature of the crime.

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“Not only does this type of crime cause inconvenience to motorists and the local council, but there are also severe safety implications, the inspector said.

“A vehicle could sustain significant damage if it was to drive over one of these holes and there is also the danger of pedestrians falling into an uncovered manhole and injuring themselves.”

In a bid to tackle the crime, which has become a problem for police forces across the UK, Insp Sissons is urging residents to mark their metal so that it can be identified by officers.

“Even if you think your metal is not worth a great deal our advice is to get it marked in some way and make sure that you display that it is marked and that way you are less likely to become a victim.

“It will also help us because when we stop vehicles and find scrap metal items we will be able to identify them and arrest the individuals involved.”

According to scrap metal website, unwanted copper wire can sell for as much as �4400 per tonne while scrap lead sells for �1050 per tonne and brass cuttings at �2900 per tonne.