Metal thieves are striking more than 15 times each  day in the region –  an increase of 70 per cent – as homes, businesses and the  railways are  plundered for valuable scrap.

Today transport chiefs joined calls for a change in the law to  disrupt  unscrupulous scrap dealers who they said were putting lives at  risk on the  railways by funding the criminals.

Raiders struck 840 times in the Black Country in less than two months  compared with 495 thefts in the same period last year.

Sandwell has emerged as the worst hit borough.

Metal thieves are striking more than 15 times each day in the region – an  increase of 70 per cent – as homes, businesses and the railways are plundered  for valuable scrap.

Today transport chiefs joined calls for a change in the law to disrupt  unscrupulous scrap dealers who they said were putting lives at risk on the  railways by funding the criminals.

Raiders struck 840 times in the Black Country in less than two months  compared with 495 thefts in the same period last year.

Sandwell has emerged as the worst hit borough.

There have been 285 recorded  thefts there since April 1, compared to 132 in the same period last year.

Dudley saw a rise from 142 to 203 in the number of raids, while in Walsall it  nearly doubled from 108 to 202. Wolverhampton also recorded a rise from 113 to  150.

Lead flashing has been taken from homes, hospitals, churches and school  buildings, while drain covers and old cars are also being targeted and even  batteries from temporary traffic lights.

Scrap prices are up around six per cent compared to the same time last year  at an average of £185 per ton.

In Staffordshire, brazen thieves are increasingly using lowloaders to steal  cars off driveways, giving the impression that the vehicles have broken  down.

Today regional transport authority Centro called for the Government to get  tough on dealers. In the West Midlands, rail thieves have caused 90 days of  delays over the past three years and cost Network Rail nearly £3.25m in  compensation for the disruption.

Sandwell Councillor Roger Horton, from Centro, said today: “It is an accident  waiting to happen, I am surprised we haven’t seen a major accident already.”

Centro backed guidelines set out by the British Metal Recycling Association  and Association of Chief Police Officers calling on sellers to give their names,  addresses and provide identification before any payment is made.

They also call for the introduction of CCTV footage, which should be kept for  four weeks. Insp Lee Gordon, of British Transport Police, said: “We need the  powers to tackle the heart of this problem effectively, allowing us to shut down  dealers who continue to flout the law and provide a market for thieves through  buying and selling stolen metal.”

Author: Mike Woods

Courtesy: Express and Star

Read more:  http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2011/05/28/west-midlands-metal-thefts-up-by-70pc/#ixzz1Z2lgtX1P