Metal thieves targeting everything from trailers to cattle grids
Proposed regulations for the scrap metal industry would substantially reduce the rates of metal theft in rural areas, according to the ICMSA President, John Comer.
The regulations, put forward by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, would impose new obligations on scrap-metal facilities. Cash payments would be banned, and anyone supplying or selling the material would have to prove their identity.
Ballyvary-based dairy farmer, John Comer told The Mayo News that expensive farming equipment, such as ploughs and trailers, was being stolen from farms ‘in the middle of the night’ to be sold into the scrap metal trade.
The price of metals, and copper in particular, have skyrocketed in recent years, resulting in a rise in theft. Copper piping and telephone wires are frequently targeted. Mr Comer explained that this has created a great deal of anxiety in rural communities. He feels the new proposals would help to reduce these thefts, as it would be harder to sell the material on.
“Whatever can be sold for scrap is stolen, with everything from ploughs, harrows, transport boxes and trailers stolen from farms. This not only causes financial upheaval for a farmer, but also an emotional upheaval, as it causes huge anxiety. I have seen instances where cattle grids and gates have been stolen and even earthing wire has been taken up,” he explained.
“If you cut out the illegal dealing it will stop all that: If you can’t sell the stolen items, there is no point stealing them. Currently they seem to be able to sell [the metals] without any trouble at all. Legitimate scrap traders will have nothing to fear from the new regulations. I have no doubt that if the proposed legislation is brought in and enforced in a thorough fashion, the rates of burglaries and thefts would fall substantially.”
The new proposals will be on public display until December 14, and Mr Comer hopes that it will pass through the houses of the Oireachtas in the new year.
The proposed measures for the operators of waste and scrap facilities would mean banning the sale of materials that have been damaged by fire; proof-of-identity proof-of-address requirements for the person supplying (selling) the material; record-keeping requirements with regard to the delivery vehicle, materials sold and the amount paid to the seller; and a signed statement by the person supplying the material that they are the lawful owner or that they have the owner’s consent.
The spate of burglaries over the last number of months in Mayo has caused ‘genuine fear across the county’ according to Mayo TD Dara Calleary, who raised the issue in the Dáil last week.
In response to Deputy Calleary, the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter said he was conscious of the deep distress which burglary can cause to householders in rural areas and was confident the ‘Garda Siochána will continue to deliver an effective police service in both rural and urban areas’.
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