Crimestoppers and security company Netwatch have teamed up to raise awareness around the country about the theft of metal. People are being asked to be vigilant and to call Crimestoppers if they see activity that might be linked to metal theft. Metal theft is a crime that affects a wide range of businesses and community organisations. Reported thefts include beer kegs, copper wires, road signs, jewellery, lead roofs and goal posts. There have also been a number of high profile thefts of precious objects including sculptures and religious relics.
Rising demand for metal on the international market has pushed the price of metal upwards and has made it a more attractive criminal enterprise. Metal theft is not a victimless crime. Significant financial loss has been experienced by companies, many buildings have been damaged because of the theft of lead roofs and many precious objects have been stolen. Farms are particularly vulnerable to metal theft and farmers are urged to take practical steps to protect their property. This is important for two reasons. First, and crucially, farm equipment is expensive and its theft can result in great inconvenience and expense to the farmer. Second, it is important that we come together as a community to try to reduce the incidence of metal theft.
There are a number of practical steps that farmers can take to protect their metal. Deterring thieves from entering your farm and from taking your property is the goal. Access gates to your property should be closed. Consider if signage would be appropriate and get specialist advice on the installation of a visible intruder alarm to provide internal protection for buildings. Farmers are advised to ensure any metal machinery or equipment is securely stored and protected by good quality locks, bolts and bars. Machinery and equipment can also be marked to make them easily identifiable and traceable. Marking is often an effective deterrent in itself. Markings can be either overt or covert. Overt markings include stencilling identification marks or using a welder or grinder to make a permanent heavy duty mark. Covert markings include Forensic DNA marking which can be applied to places not easily identifiable by a thief. Your local Crime Prevention Officer can offer more advice on these markings. Etching or engraving can be done underneath machinery or in areas which will become hidden when splattered. A soldering iron is effective for permanent marking on plastic areas. Taking a photograph of your metal can be very helpful if it is subsequently stolen. It can help the Gardaí investigate the theft, makes it more difficult for the metal to be sold and can help make other farmers aware of the types of metals being stolen. You can also help reduce the incidence of metal theft by being careful about what you buy. If someone calls to your door offering a metal item for sale, it could well be stolen. The best possible advice is not to buy machinery, trailers, tractors, quads, ride-on mowers or any other farm equipment from strangers. Make a note of the vehicle mark, colour and registration number. Note the general description of the caller and contact your local Garda Station as soon as possible. Finally, don’t pay cash for any goods. With no receipt, you have no guarantee. If you have any information in relation to the theft of metal, you can contact your local Garda Station or Crimestoppers on 1800 25 00 25. Your call to Crimestoppers is free and anonymous and you might receive a reward for information.