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article imageScrap metal theft now a national menace

By Alexander Baron     Nov 14, 2011 in Crime
The current financial malaise, mass unemployment, and the soaring price of of semi-precious and even scrap metal has led to looting on such a scale that Parliament is to consider new legislation.
“Nicking lead off the church roof” is hardly a new profession, but it is one that has been out of fashion for decades. Now however, thieves are just as likely to rob graves, as a recent series of thefts from Beckenham Crematorium has shown. While some people have no compunction about stealing from the dead, others have wound up dead themselves; there have been deaths on both sides of the Atlantic, including of small time crook Matthew Ward who was electrocuted while apparently stealing copper wire from power lines.
These sort of thefts are far more alarming than plundering war memorials or the bronze plaques belonging to the dead, because they are not only a danger to the thieves but to us all. Yesterday, there was coverage on the BBC national news, and now, a bill is due to be introduced in Parliament to tighten up the law regarding the sale of scrap metal.
This new law, if passed in its current form, will be Draconian, but for once it can't be blamed on Big Brother and the statists in Parliament and elsewhere. The Labour MP Graham Jones is seeking to make metal thieves liable to civil asset forfeiture, something which is already in force for a number of crimes, and even for those who have committed no crime at all, as 51 year old Malcolm Brown discovered to his cost.
Among other things, people selling scrap metal will have to produce photo ID, and cash payments will be banned. There are similar measures afoot in the Upper House; last month, Lord Faulkner introduced the Scrap Metal Dealers (Amendment) Bill.
It remains to be seen how efficacious these measures will be, but the alternative is delayed trains, vandalised power substations, copper wire being ripped out of Northern Gas properties with the potential to cause gas leaks, and even drain and manhole covers stolen, a serious hazard for cars, elderly people, and anyone walking in the dark.
More about Scrap metal, grave robbing, Graham Jones MP, civil asset forfeiture
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