Criminals night time theft of metals is costing the state’s economy, councils and businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. Across the state, in the cold and dead of the night, criminals are creeping across unattended construction sites, through community parks and behind businesses to rip out metals, take them to scrap yards, to be paid a fraction of their true worth.
This theft could be easily stopped.
The State Government must quickly force scrap metal yards to report who is bringing in what. This would simply place the same requirements on scrap metal yards as are already required of second hand dealers. This simple reporting would stop unscrupulous scrap metal yards from accepting goods without first seeing and documenting what they were receiving and by whom.
After a number of recent arrests and convictions (as reported in AdelaideNow on April 7 and May 7) of copper from construction sites, community locations and other premises; surely it is time that action was taken and long overdue changes made to the regulations. Despite the Police’s Operation Alchemy which has been specifically focused on this crime, until changes are made, short of catching criminals in the act, criminals have great scope to continue with their theft.
This is an issue which is intimate to Councils. Councils are largely responsible for the assessment of development applications and it is important for our communities that construction occurs as it ensures that residential and commercial buildings be renewed. Theft of copper from one construction site can “net” a criminal $500 but the replacement cost for the construction company can be $25,000 – $100,000 when you consider the actual replacement cost, lost construction time and the impact it has on the rest of the construction project. This lost money puts their other projects at risk and often results in these other projects being delayed, sometimes indefinitely.
It is also equipment in public parks and community areas which is targeted. Brass plates commemorating people from our past or copper water fountains and taps are stolen. Thieves might receive $5 – $50 for these items but their replacement cost is ultimately paid by ratepayers and is far more expensive that what the thief receives for them.
The whole community is loosing.
Telling construction companies and councils to fork out thousands of dollars to employ security guards or install monitoring equipment is not a long term fix. The onus should be on the scrap metal dealers to transparently log and document their business activity.
This is an issue which I will seek support from others Councils through the LGA to get support for.