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Gangs of thieves target RTE towers for scrap metal

RTE is being targeted by criminal gangs who are stripping metal from towers and masts for scrap, it has emerged.

Metal from other communications infrastructure, such as those from mobile phone companies, has already been hit.

RTE NL – which provides site hosting for mobile telephone operators, the emergency services, wireless broadband and other private mobile communications service providers – said it had increased security.

It has also alert authorities as a result of break-ins at its telecommunication infrastructure properties. In recent years, thieves have homed in on copper roofs, bronze statues and iron equipment to sell on the black market.

The price of metals has increased significantly over the last number of years. For example, lead now goes for €1,000 a tonne.

Most recently, the lead roof of a bandstand at the National Botanic Gardens, estimated to be worth €4,000, was stolen.

RTE sources said the metal in its masts is of little value but thieves would be unaware of this.

“There is very little interest to would-be thieves at RTE NL sites,” they said.

“I am aware of reports of thefts from public lands and premises of metal for the scrap value,” said Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte.

“Clearly to the extent that such thefts impact adversely in the provision of telecommunications services then this would be a matter of concern to me.”

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He added: “I have relayed my concerns on this matter to the Minister for Justice.”

Minister Rabbitte, in an answer to Catherine Murphy TD, said that in the area of metal thefts, a number of initiatives have been developed by the Garda Siochana National Crime Prevention Unit.

“A Metal Theft Forum has been established under the Garda National Crime Prevention Unit,” he said.

“I also understand that a Metal Theft Crime Prevention and Reduction Plan which focuses on crime prevention and regulation of the scrap metal industry is at an advanced stage of development

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