07 August 2012
Scrap metal thieves targeting UK factories
UK manufacturers are being plagued by scrap metal thieves with raiders damaging property and intimidating employees.
Metal skips, old plant and copper cabling are being plundered as gangs look to cash in on soaring scrap fees according to an exclusive WM investigation.
One site manager explained: "They drove into the factory picked an aluminium coil weighing several tonnes and loaded it into the back of the van. The security guards realised and lowered the gates. They just drove through the gates and disappeared."
The comments came as a WM survey found nearly a third of factories hit by general crime.
Metal theft was the biggest complaint. Victims have been left with losses of over £5,000 as intruders damage perimeter fencing to reach hauls.
Employees who tried to stop intruders suffered violence and intimidation.
Chris Knight of Cressall Resistors in Leicester told WM: "I stepped in between them and the copper bin and started to lift pieces back into the container. One of them started screaming at me with some choice f, b and c words."
Knight added: "I started moving the bin back inside and the guy got even more animated. He puffed his chest out and made threats to drop me on the spot."
Many factory managers criticised police reactions to the raids. Local forces were accused of token responses. "The police are not really that bothered. If you're lucky they'll send round a community officer," one crime victim said.
However, police said they were treating metal theft as a priority. The Metropolitan Police launched a Waste and Metal Theft taskforce in December 2011 and has claimed 16 arrests.
Chief superintendent David Chinchen of the Met said: "Our officers will employ a wide range of robust tactics and we plan to run regular operations to crack down on those seeking to profit, and who end up disrupting other's lives and putting their own at risk".
See WM's August issue for our special report on copper and scrap metal theft.
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