Skip to main content

Metal theft

If you’re a Metal Snatcher in Rhondda Cynon Taf we’re coming for you!

Metal Snatching or Metal Theft as it’s more commonly known is one of the biggest issues in Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Council and its partners are cracking down on metal thieves and scrap dealers!

To help combat this national problem 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.

This unique partnership approach is one of the first of its kind in Wales and follows a spate of attacks in our County Borough.

Metal Theft affects the whole community and can have deadly consequences – which can be seen in the Metal Snatchers DVD. Which is hard hitting short film, created by the Council and its partners to drive home the “Dark Side of Metal Theft”.


The DVD highlights that Metal Theft is not just about another missing man hole cover or wire cable because of these thieves;

  • 8 people across the UK have already paid the deadly price of Metal Theft, with thousands more injured and scarred for life.
  • Metal Theft has resulted in over £250,000 worth of damage to communities across Rhondda Cynon Taf - including street lighting cables, litter bins and gulley covers.
  • Over 80 operations cancelled in a South Wales hospital leaving patients in danger.
  • Religious services cancelled due to Metal Theft - Glyntaf Crematorium was targeted in 2012 resulting in £9,000 worth of damage.
  • War Veterans devastated as Mountain Ash War Memorial is targeted, causing £40,000 worth of damage.
  • 4 schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf flooded and closed to pupils after boilers were ripped out and lead flashing stolen from roofs.
  • Sports fixtures in Rhondda Cynon Taf cancelled due to over £15,000 worth of damage.
  • Mass disruption to train services across the UK are with trains delayed by approximately 117 hours every week.
  • Every week 1,000 metal thefts occur costing the UK economy approximately £770m a year.

The following short video gives resident’s tips and advice on how to safe guard their properties and features real people who have been affected by mindless Metal Theft.

South Wales Police DVD

The Council and its partners are warning those responsible to watch out as they plan a series of operations to catch the criminals responsible.

What can residents do to help?

The Council and its partners are also calling on residents to join in the fight and be on their guard and look out for anything suspicious. 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 you see any suspicious unmarked vehicles parked in lay-by’s or close to steel bins/street lights/roofs or drains, please note down the vehicle registration number and contact the Police or Council as soon as possible.

The various items that have been stolen include potentially dangerous and hazardous items that could prove fatal to the thief and members of the public because of the way that they are being taken. The theft of street lighting cables and gulley covers often leave live wires hanging down over roads/pavements and drain holes exposed, making the area hazardous for innocent members of the public.

It is assumed that the opportunists responsible for these thefts take them to scrap yards in return for cash, which is negligible in relation to the cost to replace them.

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.

What is the Council doing?

Rhondda Cynon Taf will not tolerate such activity, which is why the Council and its partner agencies have launched undercover operations across the County Borough. The latest successful operations saw:

  • 73 vehicles searched
  • 24 arrests in relation to scrap metal theft, drugs, drink driving and vehicle theft
  • 10 cautions
  • One vehicle seized as it was so full of defects, it was deemed a danger to other road users
  • 36 fixed penalty notices issued, including 15 for £300 each to those who did not have the necessary licenses and paperwork
  • Nine vehicles found to be untaxed
  • 3180 vehicle number plates checked by the DVLA
  • Three drivers dealt with for not wearing seat belts.
  • 31 drivers given producers to present their documents at a police station
  • 6 criminals convicted and fined up to £150 each and given a 12 month conditional discharge.
  • 53 metal theft crime incidents reported to the police dealt with and detected.

Since the operation was launched in March 2012 Metal Theft has already decreased in Rhondda Cynon Taf by 44%.

If you have information about these incidents please come forward, you do not have give your name and details if you wish to remain anonymous. The Council is currently working with the police and partner agencies.

If you have any information about the theft please contact South Wales Police on 101 or contact the Council on 01443 425001