Metal theft is on the decline in Sussex

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There has been a sharp fall in metal theft in the past year following a tightening up on scrap metal dealers.

Metal theft was wide-spread three years ago with churches in the Rye and Battle area being a frequent target for thieves.

The Act has made it even harder for criminals to sell scrap metal. Police

Metal cable was stolen from Winchelsea and thieves even targeted door porches in the Rye Citadel area.

Over the border in Kent, metal plaques were removed from a memorial wall at Tunbridge Wells and a metal statue was stolen from a crematorium.

Now it has fallen by two thirds in Sussex over the period 2013 -14, from 963 reported thefts to 314.

The majority of metal theft in Sussex was infrastructure theft which saw copper wiring stripped from train lines and power cables.

The decline in thefts is thought to be largely due to the Scrap metal Dealers Act 2013.

The Act, which was lobbied for by rail operators, requires sellers to prove their identity and also outlaws cash payments.

Scrap metal dealers now have to obtain a licence to trade from the local council and councils were given the power to close down rogue traders.

A police spokesman said: “Reports of metal theft have fallen because those involved know they have a greater chance of being caught.

“Before the Act, in 2012 several forces, in partnership with British Transport Police, the Home Office and the metal recycling industry, to encourage dealers to ask for proof of identity.

“The implementation of the Act has made it even harder for criminals to buy and sell stolen scrap metal.

“The act changes the way scrap metal dealers, vehicle salvage operators and mobile collectors operate, as well as how they are licensed by the local authority.

“Selling metal for cash is now a criminal offence and this makes it far easier for us to follow an audit trail.

“Mobile collectors are now also required to have a separate licence for each and every district they want to operate in.”

Metal thefts over the border in Kent have also fallen sharply by more than 50 percent.

A total of 1,659 crimes were reported in 2012-13 to 695 in 2013-14.