Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Any Old Iron?

In the last month I have seen a couple of cases of the currently prevalent crime of stealing metal to sell into the burgeoning scrap trade. We sent both to the Crown Court, even though the value in one case was only a few hundred pounds, well below the guideline threshold for sending it off to Hizonner. We took account of  prevalence, of the vulnerable victims that serve the public, and the collateral damage in which one church hall ended up with a bill approaching £20,000 to replace £200 worth of cable. Both offenders had cut live cables, showing disregard for the risk of a penalty far higher than any that my colleagues and I can impose.

24 comments:

  1. Good man BS. I'm pleasantly surprised.

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  2. I would have thought the cost of repair/ replacement would have been the figure considered anyway, not necessarily the value of the items removed.....

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  3. In the recent appeal case of R v Baston [2012] EWCA Crim 1080 sentences of 15 months were upheld of defendents of previous good character who were convicted of going equipped for theft of cable from the railway. In passing sentence the judge observed that had the defendants been found guilty of theft of the cable, the sentencing would have been much longer

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  4. The police raided several scrapyards today over the Thames valley area, I will look with interest at the court cases.
    John Gibson

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    1. They have made several arrests (previous post was full of typos - these boxes are unforgiving!)

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  5. Risking the penalty of the short sharp shock, eh?

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  6. north bucks jp30 May 2012 10:05

    This is a crime for which our guidelines rightly put emphasis on harm caused - either to individuals, or to the community - which far outweighs the value of what is actually stolen. Theft of rail signal and power cables ticks both boxes, endangering passengers' and railworkers' lives, and results in delays and ultimately higher fares. In the case of churches, most of which are already struggling to keep their fabric intact, the theft of cables or roof leading has a massive local impact. Our own parish church needs £50,000 for repairs over the next five years, most of which is raised by village functions and benefactors. Should it ever be raided, it would struggle to survive, which would have a major effect on not only worshippers but the whole community, mas along with the pub is the focal point of our rural life.

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    1. I've been trying to work the last line out. Is "mass" really the focal point of rural life in North Bucks (along with the pub)? Or is something more than an 's' missing?

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    2. Ed (not Bystander)6 June 2012 13:35

      The "m" will have been accidentally pressed as it is close to the comma. Read as: "would have a major effect [...], as along with the pub is the focal point of our rural life". There's also a missing "it" after "pub".

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  7. Two bright sparks.

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  8. Let Darwin sort 'em out.

    (Seriously though, I have no idea what possesses anyone to take such risks with their life.. I only assume they're not aware of exactly how much danger there is.. I'd think the warning signs with the pictograph of a man being electrocuted would be pretty clear!)

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  9. Recently a metal theft happened locally in daylight involving BT cable. It stopped all phone calls, internet and, as it was near the County's Police HQ, 999 calls also.

    The perpetrators left the scene before completing the act, but the area was without communications for several hours.

    They thieves didn't care of course, that is why they have chosen this profession.

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  10. There have been several thefts of fibre optic cable from phone systems, which is of no scrap value whatsoever, but still causes immense disruption.

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    1. And it is actually rather hard and expensive to join optic cables back together again.

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    2. No it's not really. I have to deal with everything from sharks to rats, squirrels, and road-construction crews gnawing through cable. It normally takes a couple of hours to resplice a couple of hundred pairs (once the crew gets on site). Yep, the jointing equipment is expensive but (re-joining) fiber-optic cable is like welding and doesn't cost that much really. Unfortunately cable often has an aluminium sheath that has value, and when they nick it it's may have a long delay to find some of the right size.

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  11. I just hope that Hizzoner sees these cases in the same light as the JJ and dishes out condign punishment!

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  12. Anonymous John30 May 2012 20:26

    Off topic, but is this down to ALS?
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2152215/Mother-dead-subway-kick-boxer-dating-man-accused-killing-her.html
    "Shafi, from Pakistan, was not asked to confirm his address or date of birth as an interpreter had not been provided."

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  13. What's ALS ? Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ? (That's what Professor Stephen Hawking has got).

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    1. ALS is the new contractor for interpreting services for the MoJ. Their appointment is controversial.

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  14. The risk of a penalty is no deterrant (this has already been proved experimentally). The only real deterrant is a good chance of being caught. Can't the utility companies set some traps?

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    1. Robert the Biker31 May 2012 17:25

      Can't the utility companies set some traps?
      Preferably of the sort carrying 33Kv.

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  15. The big problem is that the cost of repairing the damage which is invariably many times greater than the value of the stolen materials.
    Do the thieves (if caught) get charged with "stealing lead from a church roof to the value of £50", which seems a trivial offence or "doing damage to a church roof costing in excess of £20,000 to repair" which puts it into perspective.
    These are the figures quoted as the result of theft at a local church.

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  16. Once had to deal with the aftermath of some idiot stealing a live gas main. The officer first on scene said it sounded like a jet engine. The gas engineer said it was probably fortunate that the gas was under so much pressure as it was venting straight into the upper atmosphere, otherwise there would have been an almighty explosion the moment the cloud hit anything hot or sparking. We evacuated everyone in about for about 2 blocks radius and a mile down wind.

    All for about 20 quid.

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  17. This is a step in the fight against cable theft.

    http://recombu.com/digital/news/bts-killer-rabit-foils-copper-cable-thieves_M10188.html

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