POLICE in South Yorkshire made 324 arrests in nine months in the fight against metal theft – with the county dubbed a hotspot for the crime.
The Association of Chief Police Officers estimates metal theft costs the UK economy £770 million a year, with 7,000 offences reported every month.
UK insurers pay out about £1m a week to victims, for issues including the loss of communication services and power, disruption of railway networks, and the desecration of memorials.
The Business Crime Reduction Centre, which helps firms protect against crime, says South Yorkshire is ‘one of the worst affected areas in the UK’ for metal theft.
It claims metal thieves cost the county about £2.5m in damages and theft last year.
The organisation, based on Exchange Street, Sheffield, claims – despite the arrests and a 31 per cent reduction in offences over the last nine months – metal theft remains ‘a persistent threat’.
There were 2,616 offences reported between April and November 2012, with metal theft accounting for 4 per cent of all crimes in South Yorkshire.
The centre will host a conference at the Holiday Inn, Doncaster, on Friday, March 22, looking at market forces driving the crime, prevention and the impact of legislation on scrap metal sales. South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton will deliver a keynote speech.
David Ransom, centre chief executive, said “This event will address the importance of tackling metal crime head-on.”