Police in the West Midlands are responding to an increase in metal being stolen from buildings, structures and vehicles by performing checks on local scrap yards and vans operating in the area. In recent years, the police have been inundated with complaints from the public who had found that they had been the victim of metal theft, with around thirty-four million pounds worth of metal being stolen during the past four years. Furthermore, Network Rail reported that they had been targeted by metal thieves ninety eight times between April 2010 and August 2012, which not only leads to the company losing money but also disruption to train services for the public.
Police have been working with twenty scrapyards across the Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Dudley areas, and have reminded them that they must, by law, ask for identification before trading cash for metal. By making sure that scrapyard dealers register everyone that brings them metal, the police believe the amount of thefts will reduce as there will be no opportunity for thieves to sell their gains. Sergeant Rebecca Barnsley from Bilston Police station, who organised the scheme, said: “We are determined to make it as difficult as possible for rogue traders or thieves to get rid of stolen metals in the Midlands region and we will prosecute anyone found to be committing offences.”
“For too long thieves have been able to steal what they like and sell it on for, sometimes, large amounts of cash. We regularly monitor yards across the West Midlands and ensure anyone trying to sell or accept stolen goods are subject to our investigations.” As part of the scheme, police officers also stop checked twenty-five vans just off of Bilston Road in Wolverhampton to make sure the scrap metal they were carrying was obtained legally. However, the police found that there were other issues with many of the vans, with five being issued orders to undertake urgent repairs, six handed warning notices and one issued a fine for six hundred pounds.
Police also found that two of the drivers were driving without insurance, which means that they were operating the vehicles illegally. If you work in the scrap metal trade you must always make sure that you have adequate insurance for vans, and that you only buy metal from those that you know obtained it legally. If you are found to be transporting or selling illegal goods you could be fined or face criminal prosecution, so it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry.