New rules for scrap dealers to combat metal theft
SCRAP metal facilities face a raft of new rules to combat the growing problem of metal theft.
Restrictions to be imposed by Environment Minister Phil Hogan come as record high prices are leading to a huge rise in thefts leading criminals to steal metal.
Thieves are stripping vehicles of their batteries, raiding churches, taking metal sculptures and pilfering telephone wires which are then burnt to extract copper.
But cash payments for scrap metal are to be made illegal, and merchants will have to keep records of the name and address of their suppliers.
The Irish Farmers Association says rural households have been left without a phone service after thieves removed copper phone cabling. It will now be illegal to sell metals which have been damaged by fire.
Metal facilities will also have to keep precise records of vehicles delivering the metal, and the amount paid for the materials. The supplier will also have to provide a signed statement that they are the owner of the scrap.
Introducing the regulations, 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 this "scourge".
The new measures were designed to improve the traceability of stolen materials.
The IFA has said that manhole covers were being stolen throughout the country in addition to batteries and farm machinery and scrap metal is 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.
Metal worth €4,000 was stolen from the National Botanic Gardens last March when the lead roof of a bandstand in the historic gardens was dismantled and removed.
The bandstand beside Dublin Zoo in the Phoenix Park – which was only refurbished two years ago – was also stripped of its roof in the same month.
Elsewhere, a 28 stone 236-year-old bronze bell from a former church in Co Kerry was stolen last August.
Metal theft is on the increase in Ireland due to the soaring value of scrap metal.
Lead costs €1,000 per tonne, while thieves are getting as much as €5,000 per tonne for scrap copper and €200 for scrap steel.
The draft regulations are being put out for public consultation until December 14.