Rural business group concerned by metal theft upturn across Suffolk
An organisation representing the interests of Suffolk farmers and landowners has shared its concerns over a resurgence in metal theft across the county.
This week, figures revealed declining levels of metal theft had been reversed by an upsurge of 53% in 2016/17 and a further 7% increase in the following 12 months – a trend mirrored across much of England, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said it was concerned by any report of rising crime affecting rural populations.
Although total offences halved in the three years after the Scrap Metal Dealers Act was brought in to clamp down sales of stolen components in 2013, domestic metal theft of items like gates and fencing have climbed higher than when rules were tightened (from 158 to 251), while infrastructure related theft – of items like lead from public building, railways and service cabling – remain far lower (down 73% since 2013 despite also rising from 36 to 58 last year).
Ben Underwood, regional director of the CLA, which represents thousands of farmers and landowners across the region, said: “Metal theft is a crime that is costly and inconvenient to the victim and can also increase the fear of crime for those who live in rural communities in the region.
“It is always concerning to hear reports of any rural crime increasing and metal theft is sadly something our members often tell us they have been victims of.
“Historically, premises that have been particularly vulnerable to metal theft have included agricultural buildings, farmhouses, churches, listed and heritage buildings and other historic properties where lead, batteries and steel can be found.
“We encourage farmers and landowners to, wherever possible, take steps to ensure their properties are secure if they are vulnerable to metal theft.
“We work very closely with police forces across East Anglia on rural crime issues and urge our members to report any incidents of metal theft by calling the police on 101. If a crime is actually in progress dial 999.”
Earlier this week, rural crime team sergeant, Brian Calver said heightened security around commercial sites could be a reason for the increase in non-infrastructure theft.
Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said the force worked with scrap dealers to ensure they comply with the law.