Stolen Brit brass knobs feeding building boom in India, China

November 14th, 2007 - 2:09 am ICT by admin  
According to The Times, several residents have lodged complaints with the police about missing brass door knobs and handles, besides brass-made house numbers.

The thefts have become so widespread that the Association of Chief Police Officers is preparing guidance for chief constables warning them of the problem.

With demand for lead at a 27-year high and copper quadrupling in price in two years, gangs are going to dangerous lengths to secure their haul, the paper said.

The report revealed that a magistrates’ court in the West Midlands lost 1,000 pounds of lead from the roof, disrupting proceedings as water began pouring through. Detectives in the area have recently targeted the metal thieves and arrested over 260 people.

British Transport Police, who have been aware of the problem for some time, have also arrested several hundred suspects in connection with the theft of lead, copper and steel.

They have found evidence that cabling has been stolen by thieves who have risked touching 25,000-volt overhead lines to get to it.

In the West Midlands over the summer, 19 schools had their roofs stolen and thieves broke into eight Ford Focus cars and stole the catalytic converters for their nickel, ignoring laptops, stereos and CD players inside. A bus shelter was also stolen.

The brass doorknobs were stolen in a 15-minute blitz in a street in Wednesbury in the West Midlands.

One of the most valuable hauls was made three days ago, in the Forge Lane area of Dudley, when a heavy-goods lorry was stolen and the 50,000 load of copper reels taken.

Officers did not have to go far to find two men who decided to steal copper piping from a house. They sat down for a cigarette mid-theft and forgot that they had not turned the gas off. The house blew up and they spent six months in a burns unit.

The trouble for the police is that metals cannot be traced.

Detective Chief Inspector Danny Long, of West Bromwich Police, said: “The huge rise in this crime is to feed the thirst of India and China’s construction industry.

“We need government intervention to help stop this,” he added.

It is not the first time that thieves have targeted metal to boost their earnings. The streets of Gloucester recently lost manholes at an alarming rate. More than 80 were stolen at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of 55,000 pounds.

In America new regulations have been introduced by the US Mint banning the export of pennies and the five-cent nickel which, thanks to soaring commodity prices, have a face value lower than their worth as scrap metal.

Anyone caught recycling low-denomination coinage in the various melting pots of America faces five years in jail and a 10,000-dollar fine. (ANI)

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