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Metal theft

Metal thefts such as electricity cables, railway lines, war memorials, road signs, children's playground equipment and church roofs can cost the country as much as £770m a year.

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In North Yorkshire, copper, aluminum, brass, and bronze are the most common stolen metals, with copper being a particular problem in rural areas and trades people most commonly targeted. Since the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, metal thefts in England and Wales have been cut by a third.

The new law requires dealers to hold a licence to trade, and bans cash payments to mobile scrap collectors. Dealers who operate without a licence face prosecution – with fines of up to £1,000, limits on trading hours and the possibility of being shut down.

Security advice

If your vehicle is left unattended for any long period of time, the copper should be removed and stored safely. The tube on the roof rack should be left open to show it doesn’t contain anything.

Dusk till dawn security lighting is highly efficient, which switches on automatically when daylight fades and gives an even spread of light. The other main form of lighting is Passive Infra-Red Detector (PIR), which operates by sensing movement.

Check your security fencing and gates on a regular basis to ensure that there are no holes or weak spots that may assist access into your site. It is worth considering planting prickly shrubs such as Pyracantha or Berberis around the perimeter of your fence. Shrubs and hedges around your perimeter should be trimmed to around one metre with any tree canopy no lower than two metres.

Remove any means of transporting metal away, such as wheelie bins and wheelbarrows.

Remove any means where possible intruders could gain access to your roof, such as water butts, wheelie bins, ladders and garden furniture. Apply an anti-climb paint to drainpipes and roof guttering. The paint must be accompanied by appropriate clear signage, in compliance with the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 and the Health and Safety Act 1974.

Consider starting or joining a watch scheme. Your Neighbourhood Policing Team will be able to provide you with further details.

Use forensic security-marking products to mark metal goods and link thieves to a crime scene. Signs that warn forensic marking are a good deterrent and should be prominently displayed.

Ensure you conduct regular stock checks to help you to determine when the stock is going missing.