Police are advising people to be alert to scrap and waste collectors, and to help them target and reduce metal thefts.
They are urging people to make sure they use legitimate traders and to keep an eye out and report any suspicious activity.
The advice comes after a recent rise in the price of scrap metal, which can lead to increased demand from collectors and potentially an increase in theft, Derbyshire police said.
In particular, residents are urged to check that the traders they use have a scrap metal dealer’s licence from a borough or district council, and a waste carrier’s licence issued by the Environment Agency.
A legitimate scrap metal dealer will also only offer payment by cheque or bank transfer, and they should offer you a receipt or record of the collection.
Officers also urging people to keep an eye out for suspicious activity around their neighbours properties, or places which are of religious or historical importance, including memorials, in their areas.
Sgt. Mat Winterbottom, of the North Division Licensing Team, said: “Metal theft is not a victim-less crime; it can have a knock-on effect on our communities, potentially causing distress and disruption to victims, and the environment if waste is fly-tipped and not disposed of responsibly.
“We work together with partner agencies including our local borough and district councils, Environment Agency, VOSA to tackle the issue and would encourage people to make sure that anyone they trade with around scrap metal or waste are legitimate, and to report any suspicious activity to the police.”
The North Division Licensing Team covers the areas of Chesterfield, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Amber Valley, Derbyshire Dales and the High Peak.
Other tips you can follow to help prevent and protect your property from this kind of crime include:
- Remain vigilant and report anything suspicious – metal theft can occur any time during the day or night.
- If you see someone on a roof without scaffolding, report it to the police and record the details of any vehicle being used. This information can greatly help police should there be any such thefts in your area.
- Keep an eye on any nearby schools, places of worship and disused buildings or memorials and report anyone you may see trespassing. Be vigilant if you see vans or workmen arriving unexpectedly between 6pm and 8am, as they could be looking to steal metal from the roof or building.
- If possible, restrict vehicle access to buildings by locking gates and ensure that any perimeter fences are secure. Remove any means of transporting metal away from the property such as wheelbarrows and wheelie bins. Keep these items in a secure place.
- Ensure that ladders are stored in a secure place and out of sight of any passers-by. Ideally, keep them chained or secured to a wall in a secure outbuilding such as a garage or shed.
- Consider relocating any water butts or garden furniture which could give would-be thieves easier access to the roof of a property.
- Avoid leaving scrap metal you may have outside the property or your home in full view of passers-by.
- Be a good neighbour and keep an eye on empty properties in your street or area and again report any suspicious activity to police.
- If you have copper or lead on show on your property – paint it black so it doesn’t stand out. Painting the metal black can help deter a thief from targeting the property.