Scrap metal thieves strip Britain bare

Gas pipes are hacked through. Supermarket trolleys are nicked. Wheelchair ramps and wheelchairs are even stolen. Not to mention the lead flashing from church roofs. All melted down for cash. It's quite an industry when the global demand for metals is soaring. What next? Snipping through the electricity sub-station power lines?

Metals meltdown

Don't bet against it. The UK metals recycling business is worth around £5n and growing. Look at the price of lead: in 2009 it was trading at around £600 per tonne. Today, it's selling for more than £1,500. Britain appears to be increasingly stripped bare.

My local burglar knows this. He has stripped my street of its lead flashing, where it's easy to reach. Balancing on the outside railings, he's a known quantity early in the morning or late at night and gets chased off when spotted. But it seems a pattern that's repeating itself all over the country.

The Daily Mail reports that specialist insurer Ecclesiastical says its clients are reporting four thefts of metal from churches every single day. "In the past three years, 8,000 insurance claims worth £23million were made for lead theft. One church was targeted 14 times."

Even drain covers

Even David Cameron is affected. He's highlighted a case in his Witney constituency where the lead from a church roof was taken.

Elsewhere a half-tonne Salvation Army recycling clothes bank was taken away with a forklift truck. And last month more than 25 drain covers were stolen from a single road in Gloucestershire.

Train delays are also increasing due to thieves stealing cable from Network Rail, resulting in more costs for the passengers that pay for basic infrastructure upkeep.

Metal is money. Now, where has my nice cast iron downpipe grill cover gone?

Let us know if you're affected.
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