Bid to cut rise in metal thefts

CUTTING copper pipes from businesses and ripping lead from church roofs – thieves are thriving on a surge of metal thefts in the region.

But from autumn a new law passed by the Government looks set to curb the criminals who have continually left communities counting the cost.

The law, part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, will mean scrap dealers will not be able to hand over cash for metal offered to them.

A spokesman for the Energy Networks Association told the Evening Telegraph the measure could be a solution to metal thefts, which have plagued the county for many years.

Following the theft of copper piping from Lamb and Holmes solicitors, in West Street, Kettering, on Wednesday night, Energy Networks Association’s Tony Glover said: “This law could bring to an end thefts like this.

“Criminals deal in cash and will be deterred from handing over bank details when selling metal to scrap dealers.

“This is a bold and unprecedented step but was made necessary by the plague of thefts we have seen.”

The association is a trade authority which represents gas companies in the country and Ireland.

It says there are up to 20 metal thefts which affect electricity networks every day.

Mr Glover said: “The law will strangle the major ways for criminals disposing of stolen metal.

“And for those scrap dealers who don’t abide by the law, they will face the possibility of unlimited fines. There will also be greater police focus on the selling of metal.”

In recent months the Evening Telegraph has reported on a spate of metal thefts in the county.

In November the newspaper conducted a survey of churches which found almost every church had fallen victim to the metal thieves.

Yesterday it was also reported how Elvin Lovell, 30, of Valley Road, Wellingobough, stole more than £500 worth of equipment from the Sun Inn, in Broughton.

Lovell, who was sentenced to 14 weeks in jail, stole electrical cabling and copper.

Lamb and Holmes solicitors in Kettering also suffered from a metal theft on Wednesday, but the circumstances could have been more dangerous.

Thieves caused a gas leak in the town centre when they cut off about £5 worth of copper piping.