Headlines: November 24th, 2006



Rising scrap metal prices have led to an increase in thefts of road signs, drain covers and copper and in some cases that is putting lives at risk, according to the Local Government Association. It says the number of crimes being reported by councils up and down the country has risen with the price of scrap.

The LGA says authorities are working around the clock to ensure public safety. It says in recent months 385 iron drain covers have been stolen from areas in Surrey, Cambridgeshire, West Sussex, North Lincolnshire and Doncaster leaving the relevant councils to pay about 80,000 pounds for replacements. Aluminium road signs have also been a target for thieves and more than 75 black and white chevron signs, no entry signs, warning triangles and even village name plates have been taken. With most of these thefts happening at night councils are concerned that drainage systems are being left exposed and endangering drivers and pedestrians.

Two councils, Croydon and Bolsover, have reported a spate of copper thefts. In Croydon, for example, the mortuary and crematorium lead and copper roof has been severely damaged and the authority had to meet a 60,000 pound repair bill and for measures to prevent further thefts. Copper wiring and cable has been ripped from new housing developments and power supply sources in Bolsover, where unsafe buildings awaiting demolition have also been targeted.

Councillor Hazel Harding, the chair of the LGA’s Safer Communities Board, said, “It is shocking that anyone would want the potential death of a motorist on their conscience for the scrap value of a road sign, or the accident of a curious child exposed to a dangerous site being left open after its been raided for copper.