Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock is absolutely right to table a motion in Parliament that he hopes will halt the alarming increase in stolen metal being sold for cash.
The rising price of used metal and the economic climate means that more and more unscrupulous opportunists are tempted by this money-spinner and something has to be done to stop them.
Remember, these are people with absolutely no feelings or morals. Here in Portsmouth their targets have included plaques stripped from a war memorial in Kingston Cemetery and even the walking frame of disabled six-year-old Aston Muff. That’s how low they are prepared to go to make an easy profit.
There’s a cost to all of us as well, not just the victims. Today we reveal how the repair bill for the city council – funded by the taxpayer – has shot up from around £20,000 in 2009 to almost £150,000 last year.
Since 2009 there have been 65 metal thefts from council-owned buildings, including schools.
It’s time to tighten up regulations governing the sale of scrap metal so that it can no longer happen with no questions asked.
We agree with Mr Hancock that legislation is required to make sellers have to provide verified identification and that proper records of all transactions need to be kept.
But we think that scrap dealers should also be more heavily regulated.
Of course not all are irresponsible, but some of them must be accepting lead, copper or steel they suspect is stolen and just saying nothing.
It may mean more paperwork, but we don’t think honourable members of the trade will mind if it weeds out the dodgy dealers.
Because those who are already licensed with the British Metal Recycling Association and operate responsibly must be concerned that others are giving them all a bad name with their despicable actions.
In the meantime we urge those who know anything about metal thefts to tell the police so they can catch the people doing it.