Partnership to keep Auckland communities safe from scrap-metal thieves

Partnership to keep Auckland communities safe from scrap-metal thieves

National News

Counties Manukau Police have partnered with a number of organisations across Auckland to clamp down on the theft of scrap metal, particularly copper.

The partner organisations include Vector, Telecom, Watercare Services, Transpower, Housing New Zealand, Scrap Metal Recycling Association, New Zealand Customs and Inland Revenue.

The group is primarily concerned about the risks this type of offending poses to public safety which is putting lives at risk.

Thieves are targeting earth wires that are part of a safety system for power delivery. They are also stealing underground telecommunication cables that can deprive public access to telephones including emergency calls, covers from water delivery pipelines that could compromise water safety as well as metal covers which protect underground cabling. They are also stealing hot water cylinders resulting in water damage and exposed wiring in houses and power cables from road lighting systems, which may endanger the travelling public.

Scrap metal has risen in price over recent years, which has made it a more desirable commodity for criminals, including criminal receivers to whom the product is on-sold.

Inspector Jim Searle of Counties Manukau Police says "Theft of scrap metal, particularly copper, is endangering our communities."

"We have been successful in arresting several offenders lately but we can't rely on arrests alone to deter others. We also need to target dishonest and negligent purchasers of the stolen metal in order to disrupt the market for the stolen property."

"With the support of partner organisations, we are in a much stronger position to work collectively within our communities do something about it."

The partner organisations are stepping up work to make their property readily identifiable to the Police, including the introduction of new technologies.

Across the Auckland Region, surveillance and enforcement of criminal activity around scrap metal has increased.

Inland Revenue is detecting instances of tax evasion related to both selling and purchasing of scrap metal.

Customs are assisting by targeting dishonest exporters and purchasers of scrap metal.

The Scrap Metal Recycling Association is also supporting the project and note that dishonest dealers can unfairly tarnish legitimate merchants.

Private investigators employed by the affected organisations will also be used to support surveillance of thieves and receivers of stolen property.

Members of the public are urged to be on the look-out for:
•After-hours "work" on power cables in rural areas;
•After-hours "work" on underground cables;
•Suspicious activity around transformers and electricity sub-stations;
•Suspicious activity involving a receiver of metal; and
•Fires producing thick, acrid smoke (some criminals remove plastic sheathing from copper wire by burning it).

Members of the public are urged to take note of the registration number of the vehicles involved and to call 111 immediately, while the offenders are still present so Police can check whether the workers are employees of bona fide companies. Alternatively they can contact their local Police stations or anonymously call via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

The partner organisations are confident that with a coordinated approach and the help of the public they can make a real difference in reducing incidents of scrap-metal theft across Auckland.

ENDS

Issued by Natalie Swart
Communications Manager
Counties Manukau Police
Ph 027 434 2218

CONTACTS

Jim Searle, NZ Police 09 538-0303
Sandy Hodge,Vector Ltd 09 978 7638
Mark Churches,Telecom 09 353-4903
Alan Foubister, Watercare Services 09 539-7300
Korina Munro, Scrap Metal Recycling Association 03-443-006
Inland Revenue, Confidential number 0800-225-610
Peter deBruin, Transpower 09 589-2307