A ‘SIGNIFICANT’ rise in metal theft cases - which have almost trebled in a year - will lead to more work being done by police and council enforcement officers in Barnsley following a successful clampdown last month.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reveals 333 offences were recorded in 2020/21 but then jumped to 954 in 2021/22.
Of the thefts last year, two-thirds were infrastructure-related, which includes the stripping of metal such as roofing lead, railway cables or vehicle parts such as catalytic converters.
Barnsley hosted South Yorkshire Police’s Operation Voyager in September - which saw metal carriers’ licences being checked - and officers have warned events will continue in a bid to reduce instances of the costly crime.
A particular emphasis will be placed on railway cabling, which has been identified as one of the costliest thefts by Network Rail and British Transport Police.
A council report, which will be discussed by licensing officers next week, said: “Checks were carried out on vehicles carrying scrap metal to ensure they were correctly licensed under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.
“Proactive enforcement operations will continue to take place and licensing officers will work with all responsible authorities and partner agencies to ensure the compliance of licensing requirements across the borough.”
Barnsley’s figures mean there were the equivalent of 6.9 metal thefts per 10,000 people in the area last year - up from 2.4 per 10,000 people the year before.
Across England and Wales, 30,100 metal theft offences were recorded last year - up from 19,000 a year earlier, and the highest number since 2013/14.
PC Darren Martin, from the British Transport Police, said: “The theft of cable from the railway is far from a victimless crime.
“It costs the industry millions of pounds each year, causing delays and increases in costs to projects which have a knock-on effect on passengers.
“Just like ourselves and Network Rail, the courts also take the theft of cable extremely seriously and we will do all we can to bring those responsible to justice.
“We continue to work with Network Rail to modernise and enhance our resources to catch cable thieves in the act - I would assure those responsible for the recent spate of cable thefts in South Yorkshire that it is only a matter of time before they are caught.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) said rates have since risen due to several factors, including a significant increase in metal prices.
Neil Caliskan, chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, added: “Metal theft is extremely damaging and costly and has the potential to affect a range of people and businesses.
“Councils work hard to support businesses to meet the requirements of the relevant legislation, targeting their resources as efficiently as possible, and can take enforcement action where issues are identified.”