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The metal theft crime wave in Wakefield

Wakefield is currently experiencing something of a crime wave and the target is scrap metal.

Selling scrap is a steady income for many people, but not all of these people are getting hold of their metal legally. The local area has recently seen a spate of metal thefts, with churches, schools and building yards among the main targets. Metal theft crime has risen 4.2% across the city, according to recent government crime statistics and police are working with community members and local companies to try and bring the number of thefts down.

Lead in particular is a target for thieves, with plenty of it available and good prices being fetched for it at the scrap yard. A kilogram of lead will make anywhere between £0.42 and £1.00 – a value far higher than aluminium and other forms of easily salvageable metal. As a result, thieves looking to make easy cash will often target exposed lead, such as that on buildings and roofs which is used to seal edges and create rainproof barriers. These lead flashings can be easily stripped – and if done stealthily, the property owner might not even notice a crime has occurred until water damage starts to occur to the building, leaving the thieves with plenty of time to get away.

Copper is another desirable material targeted by thieves. It will fetch around £2.60 to £3.60 for every kilogram. Because it is excellent at conducting electricity, it is often used in wiring. Thieves may target cables and pipes in the hope of extracting the copper and selling it on for a good profit – usually leaving extensive damage which is expensive for the business owner. A police spokesperson has publicly warned thieves that they will face prosecution if caught, but that they are also risking their own life and that of others if they interfere with electrical cables.

So can anything be done to stop these thieves and to protect your own property? The first step is to install a reliable CCTV system which faces any vulnerable buildings or sites. CCTV is relatively inexpensive and it could save you money in the long term, through preventing theft and other losses. A camera system can record video footage and stream it back to you live, so that you can monitor your property in real time, or it can record the footage in order to identify offenders should an incident occur.

Crime prevention tips:

  • Cover exposed pipes, cables and scrap piles wherever possible
  • Use anti-climb paint or spike strips on roof edges and walls
  • If practical, remove scrap metal from the site or lock it up at night
  • Make use of gates and locks at home
  • Never store ladders in an easy-to-access place like your garden
  • Install a bright security light which is movement-activated

By limiting the appeal of your home or your work premises to thieves, you can make sure that the local crime wave does not affect you. If you have metal on your roof, take steps to warn off would-be criminals with a camera or a light, and remove access points to make it hard to get on your roof. If you need any advice, you can speak to a local police officer or contact a security firm.

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