Posted on Wednesday 4th July 2012
The Lethal Affects of Metal Theft
Metal Snatchers beware as a major crackdown continues in Rhondda Cynon Taf!
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
The Council has 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.
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!
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, roads and even precious buildings such as churches and crematoriums.
"Many of the thefts 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 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 launch of the new campaign 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.”
Superintendent Simon Clarke, from South Wales Police added: ‘Enough is enough, the actions of these criminals shows that they think nothing of the damage they are causing to our communities; as well as targeting some of our most vulnerable people, including schoolchildren, they are also in some cases putting lives in danger and costing law abiding tax payers thousands of pounds.
“Our recent operations with our partners have shown that we are prepared to use all the legal powers and resources at our disposal to arrest, search, and convict people for a wide variety of offences and to disrupt their illegal activities.
“Our communities play a vital role in the fight against metal thieves. They must be alert and report suspicious behaviour as it happens so we can respond quickly. This is crucial to helping us detect this type of crime.”
The partnership is urging residents to 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.
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.
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%.
View the Metal Snatchers DVD
All locations featured in the DVD are actual crime scenes and have been targeted by Metal Snatchers in the last 9 months;
Trev-y-Rhig Primary School – February 2012
Glyntaf Crematorium – September 2011
Edmondstown - Nov 2011
Llandogh Hospital, Cardiff – December 2011
Navigation Business Park, Abercynon – May 2012
Appeal for Witnesses - Navigation Business Park, Abercynon
Incident reported to SW Police at 6.30am on May 11th, by a dog walker who noticed the miners’ memorial plaque missing on her daily route.
The brass / copper side panels were ripped off the monument by a number of men travelling in a white van Security Camera on the site captured the incident. Anyone who has information is urged to call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
If you have any information relating to these 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.
View the CCTV footage.