Police target metal thieves

DETECTIVES have pledged to crack down on criminals targeting buildings for scrap metal as it emerged nearly �600,000 worth of copper and lead have been stolen over the past five years.

Police said that between 2005 and 2009, there were 587 reports of metal theft across Suffolk with items to the combined value of �584,183 taken from farms, businesses and homes, to be sold on.

The high rate of offences has continued this year – thought to be due to the rising value of scrap metal – and a force spokesman urged people to be vigilant in light of recent thefts from churches, substations, garages, schools and farms.

Earlier this month, a 30-year-old man, Johnathan Ehlert, was electrocuted during a suspected burglary on a power substation in Ipswich. It is thought that he was attempting to take copper from the site in Ransomes Way.

And last week gates were stolen from outside a church in Great Blakenham – the second time in a fortnight that the church was targeted after lead was pulled from a section of roof.

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The police spokesman said: “Throughout Suffolk, officers are investigating thefts of lead, copper, scrap and other metal items from used and unused premises.

“The value of scrap metal has increased over time and owners should be vigilant in protecting their property and that of their neighbours.

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“Where possible it is advised to use security lighting to deter thieves, and CCTV can also deter, as well as capturing images of offenders and their vehicles.”

Scrap metal dealers have also been contacted and urged to help police trace anyone suspected of selling items thought to be stolen.

The spokesman added: “Officers are also working closely with scrap dealers county-wide to identify anyone bringing in stolen metal.

“Dealers are contacted individually and through our messaging service Police Direct, and in west Suffolk they can also sign up to the Western Area Dealer Scheme which sees specific information on stolen items sent to relevant businesses that may be offered them for sale.

“All gates and entrances to premises should be properly secured.

“Anyone who sees any suspicious behaviour or has information about a crime should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”

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