New law to tackle Havering’s metal thieves

Metal thieves who have caused misery for Havering residents, businesses and churches are being targeted by a new law which came into force on Monday.

Amendments made to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment (LASPO) Act outlaw all cash transactions for metal at recycling yards.

The British Transport Police (BTP) hope the law will remove the “cash-in-hand no questions asked” culture still present in some areas.

“For several years thieves and unscrupulous metal recyclers have exploited outdated legislation to make profit from criminal activity. This stops now,” said BTP Det Chief Con Paul Crowther.

“These measures will seriously curtail the market for stolen metal as there will now be a clear audit trail back to those bringing commodities into recycling yards,” he added.

The law comes after a spike in the level of metal thefts, nationally and in Havering.

Cable thefts along Network Rail’s Anglia Route, which covers lines out of Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street to Shenfield, rocketed from 74 in 2010-11 to 113 in 2011-12 – an increase of 52 per cent.

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Rising telephone wire theft forced BT to launch a new burglar alarm system in Havering in March this year and a total of 115 gully gates were stolen from roads in a crime spree in June at a cost of �60,000.

The growing number of thefts has been blamed on the soaring price of metals, with lead tripling in value in just three years.

Phyllis Dearsley, churchwarden at St Andrew’s Church in St Andrew’s Road, Romford, believes the introduction of the new law is good news.

She explained slabs of the church’s lead roofing were stolen by crooks two years ago, and the church parish centre, also on St Andrew’s Road, had its lead roof tiling taken twice in 2011.

“We had to have it all replaced and it cost use a lot of money. We were very annoyed because consequently our insurance premiums shot up too,” she said. “We are a charity and cannot afford this kind of thing.

“The new law should make a real difference and reduce the risk of this happening again. I’m certainly not as worried as I was.”