Firms hit hard by rise in metal theft

Police during a metal theft day of action last year
Police during a metal theft day of action last year
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Recent home Office figures show the problem of metal theft in the county.

Police forces were only required to note metal thefts when recording offences from April 2012 so it is not possible to compare figures from previous years, but a report by the Home Office says anecdotal evidence suggests this type of crime has increased in recent years.

There were 61,349 metal theft offences recorded by police in England and Wales between April 2012 and March 2013, which is two per cent of all police recorded crime in England and Wales for this period. However, metal theft offences fell by 40 per cent from 20,151 in the first quarter (April to June 2012) to 12,076 in the last quarter (January to March 2013).

The number of metal thefts recorded by Northamptonshire Police was 955, this compares with 3,862 recorded by West Yorkshire Police.

Metal theft is not a crime defined by law, but is recorded by police under broader offence classifications, such as other theft offences and burglary.

It refers to thefts of items for the value of their constituent metals, rather than the acquisition of the item.

The available data showed that 63 per cent of metal thefts in the year ending March 2013 were linked to other theft offences.

The remaining metal thefts were linked to burglary offences (20 per cent), offences against vehicles (16 per cent) and other offences (one per cent).

The “other offences” category includes drug offences, fraud and forgery, robbery, sexual offences and violence against the person.

Metal theft has previously not been separated out from other offences in police recorded crime statistics.

In order to get more information on the incidence of metal thefts, metal theft questions have been included in the Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS).

The CVS was set up to address the gap in crime statistics that exists for crimes against businesses.

The 2012 survey focused on four industry sectors, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, transportation and storage, and accommodation and food services.

The survey found that 14 per cent of manufacturing premises experienced metal theft, nine per cent of wholesale and retail premises, and transport and storage premises experienced metal theft, and eight per cent of food and accommodation premises experienced metal theft.

It also found that one in six commercial victims of burglary and theft believed the latest incident to involve some form of metal theft.