Crackdown on metal thieves

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POLICE in Belper are now using a high-tech grease to prevent metal thefts after 28 cases were reported in just one month.

‘DNA grease’ is being used to mark materials at risk of theft, such as lead flashing, after the 28 thefts, mainly from houses, including flashing around bay windows, were reported in the town since the beginning of February.

The grease also stains the hands and clothes of the thieves with a UV tracer, which becomes visible under ultraviolet scanners. It leaves a unique DNA code for weeks, forensically linking thieves to the stolen metal.

Sgt Richard Booth said: “There have been a number of lead thefts in the area over recent weeks so the introduction of the grease is welcomed by local residents and aims to prevent future thefts of this nature.

“Officers have visited properties that have been identified as vulnerable and have applied the grease to certain areas of the property.”

A campaign to crackdown on metal thieves was launched by Derbyshire police last year and saw 63 people arrested on suspicion of theft.

Operation Calanthia ran from September 1 to December 31, during which time incidents fell across the county. In September, there were 277 incidents, 204 in October, 160 in November and 156 in December. So far in January, there have been just 60 incidents of metal theft.

But Belper’s figures have been high as thieves target the town.

Lead was stolen from the bay windows of a Belper home over the weekend of February 25 and February 26. The occupants of the house on Spencer Road told how they only noticed the theft the following Monday when rain began leaking in.

Three weeks earlier, around £400 lead was stolen from the roof of a house on Holbrook Road while the occupants were still in. Police believe the raid happened between 6pm on February 1, and 9am on Thursday, February 2.

Belper’s MP Pauline Latham has welcomed an announcement made by the Home Secretary, stating that cash payments for scrap metal will be banned and penalties increased, as the Government steps up its action against metal theft nationally.

She said: “People across both Mid-Derbyshire and the UK alike are disgusted by metal thieves and the criminals who deal in stolen metal. We need to protect business, the public and our national heritage from metal theft and that’s why I’m pleased to back the Government’s action.”

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