College taking action against metal thieves

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college bosses are fighting back against thieves who have targeted its lead roofing and stolen metal plaques from its war memorial.

On police advice, Thomas Rotherham College, Rotherham, has coated all vulnerable surfaces with Smartwater, a substance which is almost impossible to remove.

Thefts of metals such as lead and copper have sharply increased over recent months as their scrap metal prices have soared.

At Thomas Rotherham over the last year, lead has been stolen from a number of buildings on the site and last year the metal plaques were taken.

The college has not only been left with the cost of replacing the lead, it has also faced bills of thousands of pounds to repair damage.

The new strategy has seen the painting of the SmartWater substance on to the visible parts of the roofs of the buildings and the war memorial.

Security experts have also painted yellow paint and yellow TRC painted stamps on the lead which is not visible from the ground, so if it is stolen and recovered by police, officers know where it has come from.

The Smartwater solution is invisible under normal light, but glows intensely under UV light making it easily identifiable by the police. South Yorkshire officers are equipped with UV scanning devices which are used to search for traces at local scrap metal dealers and other outlets.

The plan means that not only will the police be able to identify stolen lead, but scrap dealers will have no excuse for accepting marked stolen lead from the college.

The college also intends to sue metal dealers for damages through the civil courts if they accept the lead.

It says it would also consider working with local churches, businesses and home owners who have also suffered from metal thefts to do a joint legal action against any dealer with identifiable stolen lead.

College officer Maurice Patterson said: “Lead thieves cost taxpayers thousands of pounds and we will no longer tolerate this. These are not victimless crimes, but directly impact on the funds available for the education of local students by taking money away from education.

“Some scrap dealers are knowingly accepting stolen metals. We aim to make life difficult and expensive for the rogue operators.”