Posted on Friday 3rd August 2012
Metal Snatchers have once again caused disruption in Rhondda Cynon Taf by targeting a school in Tonypandy.
The latest theft took place at Tonypandy Primary School sometime during the last few days and has resulted in between £5,000 and £10,000 worth of damage.
The mindless thieves stole around 6 metres of lead flashing from the school roof, resulting in damage to a number of tiles and water penetrating inside the school, causing minor flooding.
Metal Theft affects the whole community and can have deadly consequences – which can be seen in the new hard hitting short film, created by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and its partners, aimed at driving home the “Dark Side of Metal Theft”.
The new campaign shows the lethal affects that Metal Theft can cause -throughout the UK, eight people have already paid with their lives and thousands of residents have been left with streets in darkness, cancelled hospital operations, flooded schools and postponed church services.
This latest incident once again brings home the affects that these mindless criminals have on our schools and local communities. So far in 2012 over £110,000 worth of damage has been caused to five schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
The Council has recently set up a dedicated team, consisting of Streetcare awareness officers, licensing officers, and is working closely with South Wales Police officers and British Transport Police.
The net is closing in on Metal Snatchers as the partnership continues to carry out regular undercover operations to catch the criminals responsible.
This unique partnership approach is one of the first of its kind in Wales and follows a spate of attacks in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Cabinet member for Frontline Services, said: “Metal theft has costs the Council alone over a quarter of a million pound, money we could be spending on other services to benefit our residents.
“Apart from this, we are fed up of having our communities endangered, inconvenienced and upset by the mindless theft of metal from our street lighting columns, schools, roads and even precious buildings such as churches and crematoriums.
"Many of the thefts, such us the latest incident in Tonypandy, have taken place in residential areas and the thieves will have made quite a bit of noise, often having to break fixings to extract metal. I would urge anyone who knows anything about this latest theft or sees anything suspicious to come forward and report the information. Thefts of this kind will not be tolerated in our County Borough and we will catch those responsible.”
“We will not tolerate this and the latest operation along with the release of the DVD is sending a clear message to the offenders and associated trade that we are watching them. I hope the community are reassured that we are taking action on their behalf.
“Importantly, the new dedicated team will further build on this success - so offenders need to be aware.”
In a bid to further tackle the growing issue of Metal Theft, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and its partners are sending out a clear message to thieves that this will not be tolerated in our County Borough and those responsible will be caught!
In order to carry out this crime the criminals would have brought along their own ladders and would have made a considerable amount of noise - the partnership is urging residents living in Kenry Street and Primrose Street, which over look Tonypandy Primary School with any information to come forward and report this mindless crime and help to save lives and their communities.
Council workers or their Contractors will always be in vehicles which are clearly branded and undertake the works during the normal working day, any one seen outside working hours or appear to be working unsafely are likely to be stealing the items.
If the public see any suspicious unmarked vehicles parked in lay-bys or interfering with things like steel street bins, street lights, roofs or drains, they are urged to note down the vehicle registration number and contact the police or Council as soon as possible.
Cllr Eudine Hanagan, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning said, “I am absolutely appalled by the blatant theft and vandalism at Tonypandy Primary School. As an authority we pride ourselves in the first-class education facilities offered to our young people, as illustrated by our decision to invest a staggering £160million in our schools.
“Metal theft costs the Council – and its taxpayers - well over a quarter of a million pound a year, money we could be spending on other services to benefit our residents.
“Apart from this, we are outraged that our communities are endangered and upset by the mindless theft of metal from our street lighting columns, roads and even precious buildings such as churches and Crematoriums.
"I would urge anyone who knows anything or sees anything suspicious to come forward and report the information. Thefts of this kind will not be tolerated in our County Borough and we will catch those responsible.”
Stealing items such as copper wiring could prove fatal to the thief and put the public in danger because of the reckless way they are being handled. The theft of street lighting cables often leaves live wires exposed over public highways and the theft of drain covers exposes potentially lethal gaping holes in pavements and roads.
Those responsible, often opportunists, are scrapping these items which costs the public purse thousands to fix or replace, for little more than a few pounds.
Councillor Craig Middle, Local Member for Tonypandy, Cabinet Member for Social Justice and Chair of Governors at Tonypandy primary school, visited the school and witnessed the damage first hand, said:
“When I visited the school I was disgusted to see the damage they had caused. It took the teams and myself all morning to carry out an initial clean up and ensure that the school was water tight to prevent further damage. I was sickened to hear that this has happened and its important that residents come together to help eradicate this mindless theft. I would urge anyone living in close proximity, with any information to come forward so that we can catch those responsible!”
The Council has already informed local scrap dealers that handling stolen goods is illegal and if any of the Council’s property is found to be in their possession then the police will be contacted and they will face a fine, a criminal record and potentially prison. As part of the crack down the Council is currently putting plans in place to introduce a cashless payments system, so that metal can no longer be sold anonymously.
Since the operation was launched in March 2012 Metal Theft has already decreased in Rhondda Cynon Taf by 44%.
To view the DVD visit www.rctcbc.gov.uk/metalsnatchers.
If you have any information relating to this incident or any other Metal Theft please come forward, you do not have give your name if you wish to remain anonymous. Contact South Wales Police on 101, the Council on 01443 425001, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.