News item

Cameras leave no hiding place for metal thieves

Trading Standards officers are using the latest technology in a bid to fight scrap metal thieves.

Newham Council officers are deploying hidden cameras to prosecute rogue scrap metal dealers who break the law by buying goods from under-age children.

The stolen metal trade is driven by anonymous, low-risk transactions. Trading standards officers at Newham are using the cameras to increase prosecutions.

The council is taking action to tackle a growing problem linked to the rising price of commodities such as copper and lead.

Crimes committed in the borough have included the theft of storm gulley covers from street drains to stripping lead from a mortuary roof. Cable theft has also caused severe disruption to local train services.

Residents have also complained to the council about toxic bonfires which are used by the thieves as a quick way to strip the protective layers from cables to get to the valuable metal. 

In what is believed to be the first two joint operations of their kind, trading standards officers working with the Metropolitan Police are using undercover underage test purchasers equipped with hidden cameras to stop rogue traders flouting the law.

Metal dealers operating in the borough have been repeatedly warned not to buy scrap metal from anyone aged under 16. Doing so contravenes the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.

The initiative has already resulted in a two successful prosecutions after two dealers were filmed buying 9.5kg of copper worth £200 for £50 from a 14 year old boy and 15 year old girl.

On Wednesday 11 April 2012 at Stratford Magistrates court, the owner of T&N Hill services, 1 Ives Road, was found guilty of two offences under The Scrap Metal Dealers Act.  Anthony Norman Hill, the defendant, pleaded guilty to both charges. He was fined £200, and ordered to pay costs of £1,806.86.

On 18 May 2012 Ronald Parker trading as G.A Metals was fined   £200.00 for each for the two offences and ordered to pay £1,020.00. The Defendant was further ordered to pay £15.00 victim surcharge and a collection order was made

Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said: “These traders are putting money before anything else.  They are condoning the destruction of people’s homes and public property as well as environmental hazards. This is unacceptable.

“We are cutting off at source ways for thieves to profit from their crimes. We will prosecute anyone who is found accepting scrap metal from underage people as these laws are ultimately in place to protect young people from harm.”

Ian Corbett, executive member for infrastructure and environment, said: “There is no hiding place in Newham for those who are inflicting damage on our community and putting lives at risk to turn a quick profit.

“By using the latest technology we are also making clear we will use every tool at our disposal to secure prosecutions. There are no excuses for metal dealers and we will do our utmost to stamp out this illegal trade.”

NOTE: film footage used in the cases is available for use.