Cash rules see metal thefts fall
The number of incidents of metal theft has fallen since new rules for scrap dealers came into force, police have reported.
The ban on scrap metal dealers giving cash payments for scrap metal came into effect at the beginning of December.
Since then, dealers can be fined £5,000 if they pay sellers in cash.
Instead, they are only able to accept goods if they transfer money to the seller's bank account, or issue them with a cheque.
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In October and November last year, the force recorded 236 thefts. In the following two months, after the measures were introduced, the total fell to 124 thefts – a reduction of almost 50 per cent.
Detective Inspector Chris Barratt, who is overseeing the force's campaign against the underground trade, said as well as cash transactions being banned, dealers now have to take copies of the identification documents sellers are already obliged to produce and keep them for two years.
He said: "There has been a significant reduction and that is a positive start and we aim to build on it.
"We are making it harder for people to dispose of stolen metal and we are targeting dealers who are not complying.
"We are also working with those dealers who are embracing the new laws."
The Energy Networks Association, which represents power suppliers across the country, said the ban on cash transactions had driven down thefts from its member organisations.
The association's chief executive, David Smith, said: "There can be no doubt the ban on cash transactions has delivered the result we said it would."
According to insurance firm Ecclesiastical, which handles claims for attacks on Anglican churches and other historic buildings, claims in 2012 were the lowest for several years.
In Leicestershire in 2011, it handled nearly 60 claims for thefts worth a total of more than £90,000.
Last year, the number of claims fell to 20 claims, costing a total of more than £30,000.
John Coates, Ecclesiastical's director of church insurance, said: "These figures are hugely encouraging but it would be premature to predict the end of the epidemic of metal theft."