Doncaster metal thefts cut by a half

South Yorkshire Police have launched Operation Tornado to impact Metal Thieves and better regulate the scrap metal industry.
South Yorkshire Police have launched Operation Tornado to impact Metal Thieves and better regulate the scrap metal industry.
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Crooks are losing the war on metal theft, with offences in Doncaster cut by around a half over the past year.

Railway police are doing even better, reporting around 20 per cent of cable thefts for the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2011.

The borough has seen power cuts, telephones cut off, homes damaged and rail services delayed as a result of people taking cables and other forms of metal to sell for scrap value.

The good results have been revealed as another copper cable thief starts a long prison sentence handed down by Doncaster Crown Court.

Figures obtained by The Star show Doncaster police have reduced metal theft offences from 654 in the first six months of 2011 to 346 for January-June this year - a drop of 47 per cent overall.

Last month was their best so far, with only 51 reported compared to 132 in June 2011, a reduction of 61 per cent.

A dedicated team set up by Doncaster police has played a part and more robust checks of scrapyards are also deterring some thieves.

Chf Insp Andy Kent said: “People who steal cable and metal do not appreciate how this affects the companies they are stealing from and the cost involved to replace it. The true victims however are the public who have to go without services, and ultimately pay more for them.”

On the railways the picture is even better, with a massive fall of cable thefts in Doncaster from 104 in the first six months of last year to only 23 in January-June 2012.

Last February was their best month with only one offence compared to 23 in the same month in 2011, and there were only two last month.

Courts are backing up the police with stronger sentences against those who are caught.

Richard Fox, aged 38, of Blenheim Crescent, Mexborough, was discovered close to the tracks near Swinton station in March 2011 in possession of several coils of cable.

Following a search of the area a number of tools were also discovered including a hacksaw and Stanley knife.

Fox failed to answer bail a month later and was circulated as wanted, before being re-arrested in September when he was seen by a BTP officer on routine patrol.

He was sentenced to a total of five years three months’ imprisonment, including two-and-a-half years for the cable theft, the remainder for drugs possession and cultivation offences.

Det Con Tony Crooks, who led the BTP investigation, said: “Fox attempted to steal over 100 metres of cabling from the railway line near Swinton station. This is a busy line between Sheffield and Cleethorpes and would have resulted in severe delays to passengers using that service.

“Individuals such as Fox and others who commit these offences undermine the very fabric of our society by attacking the rail infrastructure without any concern whatsoever for the day-to-day wellbeing of law-abiding taxpayers.”

Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail, said: “This sentence sends a clear message to thieves - we will not tolerate thefts from our railway. The theft of cables from the rail network costs us all millions of pounds every year through missed appointments and delayed freight deliveries. This is unacceptable. We are protecting our network better than ever using security patrols, CCTV and forensic marking. We will find the thieves and we will work with BTP to bring them to court and seek the toughest penalties.”

n Anyone with information about metal or cable thefts, or who may have seen anything suspicious, to contact the police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, to assist us in tackling this problem.