Transport Police in Scotland combat metal theft threat

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Media captionTransport police officers have visited scrap dealers in the south of Scotland

Metal theft has become one of the top priorities of British Transport Police (BTP), second only to the threat of terrorism.

A spate of thefts has been driven by the rising value of metals such as brass, copper and lead.

BTP have carried out a major operation to warn scrap dealers in the Borders about the problem.

Officers said they were concerned that criminals could target the new rail line from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

Ch Supt Ellie Bird of BTP said: "The theft of metal is increasing as a problem and even in the last week we've seen commemorative plaques being stolen from some significant monumental places in Scotland.

Image caption Plaques have been stolen from gravestones in Stirling

"Some people see that this is an easy option.

"They consider that the risk is low and the chances of being detected are relatively low.

"That's why it's important that we are seen to be really clamping down on these people."

In addition to metal being stolen from railway property, police have been investigating a spate of thefts of memorial plaques from gravestones surrounding Stirling Castle.

About ten brass plaques were taken from Snowdon Cemetery.

The cemetery contains the graves of Stirling's World War II dead.

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