The campaign involves officers making checks of scrap yards, targeting known offenders for metal theft and offering crime prevention advice to businesses. Superintendent Adrian Futers of Kent Police said: “Due to the increasing price of metal in the world markets, we are aware that this is becoming a serious issue in Kent. Many of these thieves are opportunists and will regrettably put the price of metal way ahead of their own safety. We would like to warn anyone thinking of trying this in the future that they are endangering their lives in committing this sort of crime. We have already made a number of arrests for the theft of metal cable and we will continue to crack down on what is largely a very thoughtless and reckless crime for a comparatively small amount of money.’ He continues: “Loss of life and serious injury has occurred as a direct result of metal thefts. Since the upturn in metal theft, a number of people have been killed and others seriously injured, particularly where trying to steal live electricity cable from electricity sub-stations or railway infrastructure.”
“Not only would domestic and industrial applications suffer if power, telecommunications or water supplies were disrupted by metal theft, but other vital parts of the community could suffer as well. Schools may be forced to close if they have no power and hospitals will have difficulty dealing with both emergency and non-emergency cases. “As with water and electricity, telecommunications are a vital element of today’s society without which routine and emergency calls cannot be made. The most serious impact would be felt by frontline emergency services, which would be unable to receive calls from the public. What we need metal thieves to take on board is that the impact of this crime is far reaching and can even present a real threat to life of both the individuals who steal it and the wider community.”
Luke Beeson, BT’s General Manager comments: “The county of Kent is the fourth worse area in the country for malicious damage to the telecoms network caused by cable thieves. Many vital services are delivered over our network and the selfish gains made by these criminals are nothing compared to the impact and inconvenience caused by the loss of service to the people of Kent, particularly the elderly and vulnerable for whom a telephone is a lifeline.” “Network security is of paramount importance and we are taking measures to protect our network and we’d urge members of the public to help catch those responsible.
Please reporting anything suspicious to Kent Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. There’s up to a £1000 reward for information that leads to a conviction”.
Nick Rogers, Head of Health and Safety at UK Power Networks, said: “Criminals who interfere with our equipment risk serious burns or even death. We support the police in their investigations which can lead to large fines and prison sentences. Reporting a concern could prevent a power cut or even save a life, so we appeal to the public to inform police about any suspicious activity around the equipment which brings power to their home or business.
“There can be fatal consequences when people interfere with live power lines. The criminals whose reckless actions cause power failures have no regard for public safety. These are not victimless crimes. We thank the public for their continued support, working with police to bring those responsible for such crimes before the courts.”
If you see anybody acting suspiciously around the electricity distribution network, please call UK Power Networks on 0800 783 8866. Similarly, anyone with any knowledge of metal thieves operating in their area are asked to call Kent Police on 01622 690690 or Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Results from metal theft operation in the last two weeks
- A 31-year-old man has been charged with criminal damage following attempted theft of cable from a site belonging to Southern Water in Snodland on 27 May 2011.
- A 21-year-old man has been charged with attempted theft of cable following an incident at a UK Power Network site in Ditton, Aylesford on 25 September.
- An 18-year-old man from Darenth was cautioned for theft of steel girders from the Teardrop Estate in Swanley on 24 September. After admitting the offence, he was cautioned as it was a first offence.
- A 38-year-old man from Aylesford has been arrested following attempted theft of telephone cable from Maidstone Road, Paddock Wood on 25 September. He has been bailed pending further enquiries until 17 October.
- A 32-year-old man was cautioned for theft of metal which was stolen from the front garden of a property in Sprucedale Close, Swanley on 23 September.
- A 46-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man have been arrested for handling stolen goods after police recovered a quantity of metal stolen from a scrap metal site in Dowding Way in Tunbridge Wells on 21 September. Both suspects have been bailed pending further enquiries until 31 October.
- A 32-year-old man from Tunbridge Wells has been arrested on suspicion of stealing metal from a property in Powdermill Lane.