By Ian Dipple Thursday 10 October 2013 Updated: 11/10 09:51
SCRAP metal dealers across Redditch are being warned to ensure they are properly licensed before the enforcement of a new law begins.
Officers from Warwickshire and West Mercia Police used National Metal Theft Day on Wednesday (October 9) to educate scrap dealers and collectors about the new legislation which came in at the start of this month but will be enforced from December 1.
Under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, dealers and collectors have to apply for criminal records checks and for a site or collectors licence. Anyone found without one may be issued with a closure order and face an unlimited fine.
The act also extends an existing ban on cash payments for scrap metal and requires buyers to verify the identity of the seller.
As well as issuing posters publicising the new act, police will also be using Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras to target scrap collectors.
Between April 2011 and July this year Western Power Distribution, responsible for the electricity network in the area, recorded 251 thefts and attempted thefts of cable in Warwickshire and 119 in West Mercia, costing a total of more than £1.9million.
Ch Insp Sarah Chaloner, speaking on behalf of both forces, said: "Metal thefts are not a victimless crime. They are hitting all of us in the pocket, yet they are very difficult to prevent as they typically occur in sparsely populated rural areas overnight.
"We are appealing to residents to be vigilant, and to report any workmen who appear to be carrying out repairs at substations, climbing poles, or working on overhead cables during the hours of darkness. They may even wear fluorescent jackets and use liveried vehicles in an attempt to pass themselves off as power company employees.
"Our message to residents is to please ring in on the non-emergency number 101 to report anything suspicious, preferably with the registration numbers of any vehicles being used, so we can check it out."
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