Thieves in UK have been stealing stone and slate from pavements, roads, schools and churches after a government crackdown on scrap metal…reports Asian Lite.
Recent media reports indicate that the thieves have been switching to stealing stone and slate from pavements, roads, schools and churches after a government crackdown on scrap metal. Mike Penning, the policing minister, says that the full force of law needs to be used against stone thieves. Stone theft is reaching “epidemic” levels in parts of Britain and should be treated as a “serious organised crime”, the Policing Minister told The Daily Telegraph. Penning said that specialist prosecutors will focus on bringing “high-profile” cases against stone thieves .
According to reports Jason McCartney, the MP for Thames Valley, told the Commons that thieves wearing high-visibility jackets have been pretending to be council workers to steal stone. He described how slate has been stolen from the roof of a primary school while 200-year-old paving slabs have been stolen from a church. He said that Leeds council has been forced to replace £50,000 of York stone stolen from pavements across the city over the past year, reports The Daily Telegraph. .
In some cases middle-class homeowners have had paving slabs and even garden ornaments stolen from their gardens. In the last Parliament the Government mounted a sale of scrap metal after a spate of thefts. Those selling scrap metal are now required to provide ID while dealers have to be licensed. McCartney told the House that there must be a “dedicated stone theft taskforce” and an increase in fines handed to thieves. He said: “Our heritage is being stolen, brick by brick. Let us tackle the scourge of stone theft, as we did metal theft.”
Mr Penning said: “On a serious note, our heritage is what we are sent here to protect.’’
“We must highlight to our communities that it is their job, as well as the police’s job, to ensure that we catch the criminals in question, that they are prosecuted and that the full force of the law comes down on them.” He said. McCartney said that West Yorkshire police have started marking stone with SmartWater, which can be seen under infrared light.
He said: “It means that stone merchants or police can easily identify whether stone is stolen, and if so, it can be traced back to its original location. Letters went to hundreds of homes, warning residents of the dangers of stone theft and advising ways to protect their home and property. A similar project that operated in my area recently led to a temporary reduction in incidents of stone theft.”