EDINBURGH Council has taken a lead in the fight against metal theft from building and railways.
The Scottish Business Crime Centre set up a working group to compile intelligence and share best practice to respond to professional stripping of lead and copper and Edinburgh Council is currently the only local authority on the group and is working alongside Lothian and Borders Police.
Measures to tackle the issue include using motion detection alarms linked with CCTV cameras, and DNA marking of materials.
Last year the roof alarm at a primary school was activated leading to an arrest and on many council buildings lead is marked with a special DNA solution that indicates not only that it is from one of the authority’s properties but the coding will identify the building from which it was taken.
In May 2011, 82 cases of metal theft were reported to the police. It reduced to 32 in May last year and as few as 14 cases were reported in December. Council buildings were subjected to metal thefts on 44 occasions in 2011 but only 10 in 2012.
Councillor Paul Godzik, education convener, said: “With lead theft it is not simply the value of the lead or the cost to replace it that is the issue but in certain circumstances damage to buildings can increase the cost of repair and lead to school or building closures for repairs to take place.”
Detective chief inspector Phil Gachagan of Lothian and Borders Police said: “Metal theft from a building can result in significant structural damage and may also have severe financial implications for the building’s owner or operator.
“There is a risk for the public when live wires are exposed as is the case for the perpetrator who also puts themselves in danger when the theft takes place from high roofs and unsafe structures.”