Metal prices spark spate of thefts
They've stolen two one-tonne statues from the side of motorways, now scrap-metal thieves are lifting everything from manhole covers to telephone and power lines.
The spate of thefts is driven by the rising price of scrap metal. Sandra McGovern, from McGovern's Metal Recycling, said: "Steel is at €200 per tonne, up from what would have been about €30 per tonne six months ago. A couple of years ago people were throwing stuff away and now they are bringing it to scrap merchants."
Ms McGovern said that due to the increase there were now a couple of "fly-by-night operators" who would accept anything without question.
This week another roadside statue, 'The Bronze Lady' in Moate, Co Westmeath, was stolen.
The statue is too distinctive to sell on and it is believed that, like the 'Hitch-Hiker' installation, cut from its plinth near Monasterevin, Co Kildare, the thieves intend to melt it down for scrap value.
Both Eircom and the ESB have been hit over the past number of months. The high quantities of copper used in transmission wires have made them a prime target. Stripped cable, which is known as 'bright copper' in the scrap trade, is currently fetching €5.30 per kilo.
Eircom has estimated the cost of the thefts at about €250,000. A company spokesman said that there had been a number of cable thefts and that Eircom was working closely with gardai.
Eircom has also reported a huge increase in the number of manhole thefts in the greater Dublin area within the past fortnight.
The ESB also confirmed that some of its transmission cables were stolen last week.
A spokesman said: "ESB Networks treats any interference with its equipment and electricity system as an extremely serious matter due to the associated public safety risks and is engaging with An Garda Siochana regarding this incident."