POLICE have launched a new initiative aimed at metal thieves.
Registered scrap metal dealers across Northern Ireland have signed up to the pilot scheme which should help put an end to thieves selling on stolen goods.
The voluntary initiative involves scrap metal dealers and vehicle dismantlers abiding by a new code.
It includes new CCTV measures covering entrances, weighbridges and pay stations of all premises and other security measures aimed at detering thieves.
In support of the initiative, Police and NIEA teams have been undertaking a series of joint operations targeting unlicensed scrap metal dealers and legitimate dealers who haven’t signed up to the scheme.
Chief Superintendent Alan Todd explained: “Quite simply, the biggest risk of metal and cable theft is that it can put innocent lives at risk.”
In the 12 months to 30 September this year, there were 1,469 incidents of metal theft reported across Northern Ireland.
While that is a drop of 14.8% from 1,726 on the same period last year, tackling metal theft remains a police priority.
The Chief Superintendant added: “Cable theft from infrastructure has the potential to risk lives by disrupting the telephone network and emergency 999 calls, while the removal of cabling from derelict properties can leave buildings in an incredibly unsafe condition posing a risk of electrocution.
“We have also recorded incidents where man-hole covers have been stolen which had potentially lethal consequences,” he said.
“Metal and cable theft is not a victimless crime.”
“Schools, places of worship, community centres, businesses and homes have all been seriously damaged, so Police and our partner agencies have been working to make everyone aware of the dangers caused by the theft of metal and cable and identified ways to prevent it.”
Chief Superintendent Todd “said he welcomed the support for the initiative to date, especially, he says, from the registered scrap metal dealers.
In addition to asking for identification and proof of address from individuals selling scrap metal, registered scrap metal dealers participating in the scheme will record the registration numbers of the vehicles being used and have CCTV recording in place on their sites, and have undertaken to share this information with police.
Justice Minister David Ford said about the scheme: ““Although the number of reported incidents of metal theft are lower this year than last, we continue our efforts to further reduce its impact on the community,”
““I welcome this partnership working between the PSNI and scrap metal dealers and recyclers.
“It is an important step in tackling metal theft by reducing the opportunity for criminals to convert stolen metal into cash.”
The Minister added: “These opportunistic criminals target the whole community and put everyone at risk by stealing metal from domestic, public and corporate premises. We therefore continue to need the help and support of local communities.” Anyone who has any information on those committing this type of crime should contact the PSNI or report their information anonymously to the national crime charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”