Posted on Thursday 19th July 2012
The harsh reality of metal theft has hit home after two young men have been left scarred for life – after both sustained severe burns during a suspected metal theft incident.
View Pictures Here (Warning the images are of the real injurires sustained and may cause distress to viewers).
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s hard-hitting The Dark Side of Metal Theft DVD, created to warn of the dangers of the crime and to provoke community involvement, was a staged re-enactment of the horrors of metal theft.
But the reality has now hit home, with national attention drawn to the shocking images of two young men who suffered serious burns as a result of a suspected metal theft incident at a disused metering factory in Luton, Bedfordshire.
As well as needing specialist care from a burns unit, the men also face an investigation in to their alleged metal theft actions.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and South Wales Police have recently launched a proactive campaign of enforcement and awareness-raising as a result of the ongoing harm metal theft offences are causing to our communities.
A key part of the campaign is the Dark Side of Metal Theft a haunting short film that illustrates how the offending can damage the community and endanger lives.
All situations in the film were recreated for dramatic effect, including injuries caused during a metal theft. But the real-life horror that has attracted attention shows the dvd is not far from the truth.
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 campaign aims to raise awareness of the consequences of Metal Theft and encourage people to come forward and report it. Metal Theft isn’t just about man hole covers, the crimes that these mindless thieves carry out affect the whole community – stealing metal from schools, churches, hospitals etc.
The latest marketing drive supports the work that the new dedicated team are carrying out on the ground, tackling those responsible via various undercover operations. The dedicated team consists of Streetcare awareness officers, licensing officers, and is working closely with South Wales Police officers and British Transport Police.
The team are also monitoring scrap dealers and asking them to report anything suspicious. This will be further encouraged as the Council looks to put cashless payment systems in place.
There really is nowhere for Metal Snatchers to hide as the Council and its partners take an all encompassing approach to metal theft!
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 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.”
Superintendent Simon Clarke, from South Wales Police, is keen to warn others about the dangers of tampering with wire and metal cabling.
Superintendent Clarke said: “Throughout the country police have recorded an increase in the amount of metal and cabling being stolen. This incident and the pictures that have been released once again illustrate the dangers of tampering with this type of product. Even in buildings that appear to be disused you will not know if the main electrical supply has been cut off. Both these men had a lucky escape, but have been scarred for life and others should heed this warning.”
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 thieves as two young men have recently found out and also 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 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
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.