A hi-vis jacket can get you more places than your pass­port

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - NEWS - By Krissy Stor­rar KSTORRAR@SUNDAYPOST.COM

crime gangs are dress­ing as work­men to mount au­da­cious raids net­ting mil­lions of pounds of wire and metal.

They have used the tech­nique to re­move over­head wires, steal man­hole cov­ers and even take the ca­ble from the lift shaft of a block of flats.

Last week, we re­vealed how a gang worked nights for months to strip £1 mil­lion of metal from a site of an old hospi­tal in Glas­gow.

Derelict build­ings are now a prime tar­get of crim­i­nals as the ris­ing price of cop­per and a per­cep­tion of the crime as “high re­ward and low risk” have trig­gered an in­crease in metal thefts.

Jim Scott, metal theft lead at Scot­tish Busi­ness Re­silience Cen­tre, works with po­lice, pri­vate com­pa­nies and pub­lic sec­tor bod­ies to help pre­vent the crimes.

He said: “You can get fur­ther with a hi-vis jacket than you can with a pass­port these days.

“If mem­bers of the pub­lic see some­one work­ing on lift­ing man­hole cov­ers, for ex­am­ple, and they’ve got a hi-vis jacket on and a flatbed truck, they think it’s nor­mal work­men or the lo­cal au­thor­ity and they just let it go. I think the more brazen you are, the more chance you have of get­ting away with it.

“If you’ve got some­one who’s stand­ing out­side look­ing about and look­ing edgy, that might raise con­cerns.

“But if you’ve got some­one who just drives up in a flatbed lorry or a van and just does what they’re there to do and goes away you’re not go­ing to crack a light.”

The old Stob­hill hospi­tal site in Spring­burn, Glas­gow had been “picked clean” by thieves.

Ear­lier this year the coun­cilowned for­mer TNT build­ing in Bell­shill, North La­nark­shire, was stripped in just five days.

It is es­ti­mated that North La­nark­shire Coun­cil will have to spend £250,000 on the empty build­ing to re­wire it and re­pair the dam­age. Mr Scott said: “In­di­vid­u­als went into the build­ing and sys­tem­at­i­cally stripped out all the valu­able as­sets. Ev­ery­thing has been taken from in­side it, in­clud­ing the elec­tri­cal ca­bling. “That was done in a pe­riod of about five days. They’ve been in, done it and out.” An­other metal theft saw around 160 man­hole cov­ers stolen from streets in nearby Wishaw in less than 48 hours. Thieves also stripped the lead from three Glas­gow pri­mary schools – An­nette Street, King’s Park and Croft­foot – in the space of one week­end dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days in 2015.

Scot­stoun Pri­mary School in the city was tar­geted while the roof was be­ing re­placed and the cul­prits stole brand new lead.

A derelict school in Glas­gow was stripped by thieves who slept in the build­ing so they could work round-the-clock. False ceil­ings had even been torn down so they could take ev­ery sec­tion of ca­bling. Mr Scott added: “Derelict build­ings are one of the pri­or­i­ties for them in­stead of live over­heads. “There’s less of a chance of be­ing caught when you’re in a derelict build­ing.” Res­i­den­tial build­ings are also tar­geted. One gang wear­ing hi-vis went into a block of flats, sev­ered the lift ca­ble on the ground and 17th floors then dragged it out in full view.

Cat­alytic con­vert­ers and beer kegs have also been stolen to be sold as scrap.

Break­ers yards and deal­ers in Scot­land have been banned from pay­ing cash for scrap since Septem­ber 2016. Some get round the strict rules by of­fer­ing a ser­vice where they will cash a cheque for a per­cent­age fee.

Metal stolen in Scot­land is also some­times shipped to North­ern Ire­land where the reg­u­la­tions are not as tight. The num­ber of metal thefts re­ported to po­lice fell to 769 in 2017/18 from 1,029 the pre­vi­ous year.

But Eng­land and Wales are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a surge in thefts and Mr Scott warned that Scot­land is likely to fol­low suit as the price of cop­per is pre­dicted to rise 20% by 2020. It cur­rently costs £4,700 per tonne, while lead is val­ued at £1,400 for the same amount.

He said: “If you look at what’s hap­pen­ing down south just now they’ve got a mas­sive ride in metal theft.

“Usu­ally the trend seems to fol­low what’s hap­pen­ing down there and it’s not long be­fore it starts to hap­pen up here.” North La­nark­shire Coun­cil said: “Metal theft and the dam­age as­so­ci­ated with it car­ries sig­nif­i­cant re­pair costs which can have a se­ri­ous im­pact on fund­ing for coun­cil ser­vices.”

Thieves dress as work­men in hi-vis jack­ets to carry out raids

Our story last week

Over five days, the for­mer TNT build­ing in Bell­shill, La­nark­shire was pil­laged

Thieves made off with all the lead from the roof of An­nette Street school

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.