A crackdown on traders and scrapyards has helped slash the number of metal thefts in the Buckingham and Bicester areas, Thames Valley Police said this week.
Over the past year, reports of metal thefts in Aylesbury Vale fell by 43 per cent, from 321 to 183. In the Cherwell area including Bicester and Banbury, metal thefts fell by just under 40 per cent, from 196 reported incidents to 120.
Rural churches, village halls, and even war memorials have been targeted by metal thieves, including Launton Church near Bicester, and Fringford Village Hall.
Bicester’s MP, Sir Tony Baldry, was one of a group of MPs behind this year’s Scrap Metal Dealers’ Bill.
Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Sara Thornton, said some unscrupulous metal dealers took very few steps to check up on items entering their yards.
She added: “Theft of metal impacts on many levels; it isolates communities; disrupts vitals services; threatens critical infrastructure; and represents a significant cost to the public purse – estimated to be between £500 and £700million pounds per year.”
Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “It is a major priority and we are making significant progress.
“The value of what is stolen is often small compared to the disruption and damage it causes.”
A total of 55 targeted operations were carried out over the last year to cut metal thefts.
Raids carried out in May last year under Operation Symphony resulted in charges being brought against 28 people for around 200 crimes linked to metal theft.