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All that glitters is gold: Metal theft rising in UK and around the world

Friday, January 06, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: metals, thieves, copper

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(NaturalNews) Ten years ago, it would have been almost unheard of to hear about thieves targeting facilities like churches or hospitals for their copper trim work, steel-encased generators, wiring, and other metal materials. But today, in the midst of a spiraling global economy, a growing number of thieves are shamelessly nabbing metal wherever, and however, they can, in order to make a quick buck.

Snagging copper wiring from utility poles and air conditioning units is no longer the modus operandi for criminals looking to cash in on the rising value of basic metals. According to recent reports, metal thieves are now taking their dirty work to churches, hospitals, and even local parks and historical sites -- where metal of any significant value can be found is now open game for them.

"He was an inspiration to many people and a tireless campaigner against social injustice, so it's a great shame that thieves have now taken his memorial," said Johanna Crawshaw, the last living relative of the famous doctor and humanitarian Alfred Salter, to Reuters. In a shameless act of pure greed, metal thieves recently sliced off and removed a metal statue of Salter from a platform on the River Thames in London (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/30/us-britain-metal-theft-idUSTRE7BT0HC20111230).

More recently, churches in the Anglican Diocese of Chelmsford in the UK filed an insurance claim for the equivalent of about $1.5 million to cover metal thefts from church buildings. BBC News reports that many churches have been repeatedly targeted for their metal roofing and other metal-based materials (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-16409785).

Also in the UK, the Llandough Hospital in the Vale of Glamorgan recently had to halt scheduled cancer surgeries for 80 of its patients after metal bandits stole several hundred meters of cabling from the hospital's backup generators. Backup generators, of course, are necessary to ensure that, in the event of an unexpected power outage, doctors and surgeons can successfully complete their surgeries and minimize the risk of injuring or killing their patients (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-16187750).

Metal thefts are also on the rise in the US as well. A recent report out of Tennessee, for instance, explains that thieves are repeatedly targeting construction sites, businesses, and even cemeteries -- many vases and memorial items at cemeteries are made of metal -- in search of valuable metals (http://www.wcyb.com/news/30135427/detail.html).

Hoping to deter such activity, many metal recycling plants are now requiring their customers to present proper identification, thumbprints, and even comply with a waiting period requirement in order to receive payment for recycled metal.

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