Berkshire

Berkshire borough sees 75% rise in metal thefts

Metal thefts in a Berkshire borough have risen by almost 75% in the last year, according to police figures.

Windsor & Maidenhead council said the increase from 321 in April 2009/10 to 561 in 2010/11 highlights a spate of gully cover and road sign thefts.

Across Berkshire there was a 39% rise in metal thefts - from 1,809 to 2,519 - which is about seven thefts a day.

Nick Gilbert, from Thames Valley Police, said "high numbers of scrap yards" could be a factor.

The head of Thames Valley Police's metal theft reduction campaign, Operation Precious, said "global forces" had pushed up the value of metal.

"There is only a finite amount of metal in the world so they are paying top money for scrap," Mr Gilbert said.

Recently thieves stripped metal from a ski slope in Bracknell, stole bronze statues from a children's park in Lower Basildon and more than 200 homes in West Berkshire had no phone lines for a week in August after copper cable was stolen.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, of British Transport Police and who leads the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Metal Theft Working Group, said: "We've arrested 90 people for metal theft in Berkshire, surrounding counties and south London since April this year, but the crime continues to increase.

"At BTP we are doing all we can to protect the rail network including hot spot patrols and funding extra officers."

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