The metal theft crime wave that has struck Wakefield is set to be debated by council watchdogs.
Stats have revealed that metal theft offences across Wakefield and the Five Towns more than doubled last year.
Now the authority’s community safety bosses will look at what can be done to clamp down on a problem draining £770m from the UK economy annually.
Wakefield Council’s Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committee will look at a raft of measures they can use to tackle the issue.
A report to the committee says: “Metal theft affects many areas of life, causing disruption to everyday activities, financial loss and emotional distress to victims and in some cases it can be highly dangerous for the perpetrator.”
It adds: “In recent years, metal theft has become very lucrative for criminals due to the increasing prices paid for scrap metal and the fact that the industry has traditionally operated through cash transactions, making it harder to trace stolen goods.”
The report says it is estimated that metal thefts went up 134 per cent across the district in the 12 months ending September 2011, with 900 offences recorded in that period. Measures being used to tackle the problem elsewhere have included replacing metal parts with non-metal when possible and introducing CCTV and motion sensors.
Organisations are also using ‘smartwater’ which tags thieves and Network Rail, one of the biggest victims, are introducing cables that are harder to steal and easier to identify.
The report adds: “As councils maintain a register of scrap dealers, some are trying to tackle the problem themselves by either increasing inspections at scarp yards or encouraging dealers to sign up to a voluntary code of conduct.”
In Kirkless, the local council have become the first in West Yorkshire to ask scrap dealers to sign up to an industry code that commits to cashless payments, asking for photographic ID and reporting suspicious customers to the police.
Representatives from West Yorkshire Police, British transport Police and the Environment Agency have been asked to attend.