Metal thefts dent recycling progress

Rising prices for scrap metal has led to a surge in the number of thefts from recycling facilities and ill-protected sites like churches and abandoned buildings.

In an effort to tackle the problem, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) has teamed up with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to share information and resources.

Recycling facilities are seen as an opportune target by thieves and the BMRA reports that several of its members have fallen victim to crime.

On the other side of the coin, reputable metal merchants need to be sure that the scrap they are buying has not been stolen.

A spokesperson for the BMRA told edie that the company which insures most of the UK’s churches had received over 1,000 claims relating to the theft of metal from the buildings, and that the rise in value of scrap prices has fuelled the problem with lead, for example, almost tripling in value over the past year.

He said that the association was informed of any metal thefts reported to police and posted bulletins on its website within 24 hours of being notified.

“The key thing is to keep regular checks on these bulletins – if there’s a theft of metal reported to the police, it appears on this bulletin within 24 hours,” he said.

Taking simple precautions is the best way to protect stocks of metal.

“Treat it as you would any other high value item and keep it out of harm’s way,” he said.

BMRA director general Lindsay Millington said: “Thefts have been a growing problem for our members: their sites have been targeted and they need to be sure they are buying legitimate material.

“With this in mind we are doing everything we can within our own industry and with other interested parties – including ACPO – to reduce metal thefts.”

ACPO chair Ashley Croft said: “The theft of metals is a significant problem across most of the UK. Together with the BMRA we are exploring how we can work closely in an effective and productive way and I look forward developing relationships further with the recycling industry.”

Sam Bond

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