Auto parts theft is on the rise in Gloucestershire

GLOUCESTERSHIRE saw an increase in metal thefts last year, figures show.

The AA said metal theft – which includes the theft of valuable auto parts – increases when household budgets are tight.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows Gloucestershire Constabulary recorded 326 metal theft offenses in 2021-22, a significant increase from 160 the previous year.

Of the thefts last year, 102 were infrastructure-related, which includes stripping metals such as lead from building roofs, taking electrical or railway cables or stealing vehicle parts.

The other 224 were not related to infrastructure, which could involve the theft of scrap metal or wartime plaques.

This meant there was the equivalent of 5.1 metal thefts per 10,000 people in the region last year, compared to 2.5 per 10,000 people the year before.

In England and Wales, 30,100 metal theft offenses were recorded last year, up from 19,000 a year earlier and the highest number since 2013-14.

Almost two-thirds of them were related to infrastructure – the highest proportion since comparable records began in 2012-2013.

Metal theft rates plummeted from 2012 to 2013, around the time the Scrappers Act, introduced to crack down on the trade in stolen metal, was introduced.

However, the Local Government Association said rates have since risen due to several factors, including a significant rise in metal prices.

Nesil Caliskan, Chairman of the LGA Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Metal theft is extremely damaging and costly and has the potential to affect a range of people and businesses.

“Councils work hard to help businesses meet the requirements of relevant legislation, targeting their resources as effectively as possible, and can take enforcement action when problems are identified.”

The LGA is calling on the government to introduce an offense in the Scrap Dealers Act to receive money for scrap metal, as well as specific funding to support enforcement to help local authorities.

Jack Cousens, head of road policy for the AA, said: ‘When there is a squeeze on household budgets, unfortunately crimes such as theft of metals and car parts increase.

“The two main reasons are the stable scrap price and thieves selling parts on the black market.

“While reputable scrap metal dealers follow and enforce the rules when it comes to metal sales, there is still a long way to go to tackle yards ready to turn a blind eye when a big delivery arrives.”

The AA called on the government to recruit and train more police to deter thieves from stealing coins in the first place.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We recognize the impact theft can have on victims and we want offenders charged and brought to justice in court.

“We are giving police the resources they need to keep us safe, including hiring 20,000 additional police officers and providing funding to the National Infrastructure Crime Reduction Partnership, which ensures that police and law enforcement partners law work together to combat metal theft.”

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