ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan has ordered a crackdown on scrap-metal thieves.
Waste facilities accepting scrap metal face tough new restrictions under the plan.
The move comes as all-time high metal prices are leading criminals to strip vehicles of their batteries, raid churches and stealing metal sculptures and telephone wires.
Cash payments for scrap metal are being made illegal and merchants will have to keep proper records of the name and address of their suppliers.
Thieves had been stealing phone cables, burning them and stripping off the copper.
Farm households have been left without a phone service after thieves removed copper phone cabling.
However, it will now be illegal to sell metals which have been damaged by fire.
Launching the plan, the minister noted the cost of the recent “widespread incidence of metal theft”.
Mr Hogan said proper checks at waste facilities would help to curb the “scourge” of metal thefts.
The IFA said that manhole covers were being stolen throughout the country in addition to batteries, farm machinery and scrap metal being taken out of farmyards,
In Cork, thieves have stolen road signs while in the Midlands thefts of copper pipes, cylinders and radiators from homes and sports club facilities have been reported.