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A DISTURBING rise in the number of thefts of metal, particularly copper, across Ballymoney and Moyle has prompted a call for new legislation to make it more difficult for thieves to pass on the goods at scrapyards.

Thefts of metal are believed to be at an all time high in North Antrim and police chiefs are intent on stamping it out.

According to one senior officer in North Antrim, “everybody is at it”.

Inspector Bryan Hume made the comment at a District Policing Partnership last week and said police were seeing known criminals and others engaging in this type of theft because it was “easy money.”

Prices paid for scrap metal, especially copper, have skyrocketed, in part because of high demand from rapidly industrializing nations such as Brazil, China, and India.

The damage caused by the thefts is causing police and property owners great concern and the former Area Commander for Ballymoney and Moyle, Chief Inspector John Magill, is calling for new legislation to stop stolen copper and other metals from being sold at scrapyards.

He told a meeting of Moyle District Policing Partnership that he was due to meet the Justice Minister, Mr. David Ford, and one of the key items was the question of metal theft and the need for legislation to be introduced to make it harder for the criminal.

“There is something wrong with the legislation to deal with this type of crime. New legislation needs to be put in place to get a grip on this situation,” Chief Inspector Magill said.

He said police had spoken to a number of dealers with varying responses, although Inspector Hume pointed out that the established dealers were making every effort to ensure that what they received was legitimate.

“A number of scrapyards are now taking videos of vehicles and asking for more information,” he said.