Crackdown on metal thieves

Mearns kirk has suffered three times at the hands of metal thieves.
Mearns kirk has suffered three times at the hands of metal thieves.

JUSTICE secretary Kenny MacAskill has this week announced new measures to clamp down on metal thieves.

The Scottish government has joined forces with the British Transport Police and Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (ACPOS) to launch the Cut Out Metal Theft campaign.

Under the new scheme, metal dealers with an annual turnover of £1 million or less will require a licence.

The government is also likely to remove an exemption limit of £100,000 in order to bring all dealers under the scheme.

Metal theft is prevalent in East Renfrewshire, as last week The Extra reported that Mearns Kirk had been targeted for its roofing lead for the third time in a just over a year.

The kirk’s fabric convener, John Henderson, confirmed that as metal theft is so common among church buildings, the Church of Scotland can no longer claim insurance cover for it.

Community police inspector Campbell Crawford told The Extra that extra patrols were being sent out to many places of worship, as “unfortunately, we are seeing a rise in the number of lead and metal thefts from churches and other public buildings, due to their high re-sale value”.

This week, Mr MacAskill said: “With the cost to the UK economy being put as high as £770 million, the status quo is untenable.

“We will take action on cash payments for metal to remove the attraction of easy ready cash payments.

“Licensing could also help ensure that better records are kept, CCTV cameras are installed and checks on customer identities are conducted”.

Chief superintendent Ellie Bird, chair of the ACPOS metal theft group, added: “We do still need valuable assistance from the public and the campaign is designed to make them aware of the scale of an issue which continues to blight their communities, and take their own action by reporting it”.