Police warning as metal thefts cost �500k-plus

SUFFOLK: Police today urged the public to be more vigilant after the cost of metal thefts over a five-year period was revealed to be nearly �600,000.

Suffolk police said there were 587 reported cases of metal theft in the county between 2005 and 2009, with items to the value of �584,183 taken to be sold for scrap.

The warning also comes after Johnathan Ehlert was electrocuted during a disastrous suspected burglary at a power substation in Ipswich – the latest incident in which a suspected metal thief has been injured or killed.

It is thought that he and others were attempting to take copper from the site in Ransomes Way.

Last week, a team of volunteers and trustees voiced their digust after a copper war memorial was stolen from Mendlesham.

The memorial was created in 1949 as a way of paying respect to all those who had served at RAF Mendlesham, a Second World War airfield.

Also last week the gates were stolen from outside the Baptist Church in Great Blakenham – the second time in a fortnight that the church was targeted, after lead was pulled from a section of roof.

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The gates were pulled from their hinges some time between 9pm on Tuesday and 2pm the next day.

Church secretary Glenys Evemy said it was clear the pale grey wrought iron gates leading to the Chapel Lane property had been targeted “quite deliberately”.

She said: “The police were telling me there had been several incidents in Great Blakenham lately. We’re going to replace the gates but they will be wooden next time, I expect.”

A police spokesman said: “Throughout Suffolk, officers are investigating thefts of lead, copper, scrap and other metal items from used and unused premises.

“The value of scrap metal has increased over time and owners should be vigilant in protecting their property and that of their neighbours.

“All gates and entrances to premises should be properly secured. Where possible it is advised to use security lighting to deter thieves. CCTV can also deter as well as capturing images of offenders and their vehicles.”

Scrap metal dealers have also been urged to help police trace anyone suspected of selling stolen items.

Anyone with information about the theft at the Baptist Church in Great Blakenham should call Sergeant Colin Curtis of the Mid Suffolk South Safer Neighbourhood Team on 01473 613500 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

n What should be done to combat metal thefts? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.