Hundreds of metal thefts in Shropshire with lead roofing and stolen car parts
There were 666 thefts in Shropshire, Mid Wales and the wider West Mercia region in 2020-21, up from 787 the previous year.
However, nationwide metal thefts are on the rise, with 19,000 last year – the highest number since 2014-15.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows West Mercia Police recorded 521 metal theft offenses in 2020-21.
Of these, 239 were related to infrastructure, which includes the stripping of metals such as lead from the roofs of buildings, the taking of electrical or railway cables or the theft of vehicle parts.
The other 282 were not related to infrastructure, which could involve the theft of scrap metal or wartime plaques.
Recent thefts in Shropshire include the theft of three Ford Fiestas in one December night at Lawley in Telford.
And numerous warnings have been issued by West Mercia Police about thefts of catalytic converters over the past year, with Detective Inspector John Weaver explaining the parts could be removed from their housing in as little as three minutes .
Dyfed-Powys Police recorded 145 metal thefts in 2020-21, and of those, 37 were infrastructure-related. The remaining 108 were not related to infrastructure.
The Local Government Association said the introduction of the Scrap Dealers Act 2013 – introduced to crack down on the trade in stolen metal – was initially successful, but rates have now risen.
Nesil Caliskan, Chairman of the LGA Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Metal theft can affect a range of people and businesses and is extremely damaging and costly.
“Councils are targeting their resources as effectively as possible and doing what they can to help businesses comply with the requirements of the legislation – and can take enforcement action when problems are identified.”
She added that the LGA is calling on the government to update the Scrap Dealers Act and introduce an offense of advertising and receiving money for scrap metal to act as a deterrent.
The ONS said the 9% rise in the total number of offenses nationwide came after improved recording of the theft of catalytic converters – which contain precious metals – by the Metropolitan Police.
RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “Police forces run awareness campaigns but, as with most motor crime, the first line of defense is for drivers to take all possible action to prevent their vehicles from being targeted in the first place.”
Mr Williams said this could include keeping cars parked in a locked garage or on a well-lit street, as well as ensuring the vehicle’s exhaust is close to a wall or fence when parked, to deter criminals.