7:50am Monday 2nd April 2012
HAMPSHIRE police have stepped up their war against metal thieves by placing scrapyards under intense scrutiny.
Under a new scheme, dealers will now be made to ask for a UK photo card driving licence, passport or official national identity card supported by a utility bill showing the seller’s current address.
Properties across the county have been targeted by thieves looking for lead, copper and cabling – including war memorials and statues.
Across Hampshire, churches, schools and shops have all been hit, while residents have reported manhole covers being stolen in their roads and even garden gates.
New laws are now in the pipeline, making it a crime to buy scrap for cash while beefing up penalties under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.
But until they come into force the county’s scrapyards are being urged to sign up to the ID scheme starting from May 1.
The latest salvo comes after the Daily Echo revealed how a breast cancer screening facility in Ringwood was crippled when cables were stolen.
Our investigation also discovered how the south’s long suffering train commuters are enduring 1,600 extra delays because thieves have been stealing signalling equipment.
In recent months police have also carried out operations involving spot checking vehicles in the New Forest and Winchester in a bid to crack down on scrap thieves.
Inspector Jackie Wilson, from Romsey Police Station, said: “This is the start of an initiative to actively identify and target those who deal in stolen metal.
“Yards that do not agree to sign up may become the focus of heightened police scrutiny.”
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