Homes, churches, schools and businesses in the county are all suffering increasing levels of metal theft, with lead roofs, copper piping and electronic cabling all considered fair game.
Metal is a tempting target, not just because it is worth so much, but because it is so easily converted to cash.
The costs of replacement often run to tens of thousands of pounds, not to mention the effects of further damage to the inside of buildings exposed to the elements.
Thieves now even resort to stealing metal name plaques from churchyards and war memorials, in exchange for a few pounds from unscrupulous scrap metal dealers.
The existing situation where anyone can sell anything to scrap metal dealers for cash, with no questions asked, has to be challenged.
We have been lobbying the Government to amend the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 so all scrap metal dealers are licensed, cash sales of scrap metal are prohibited and enforcement powers and penalties are enhanced so metal thieves face the full consequences of their crimes.
I would encourage anyone actually, or potentially, affected by metal theft to write to their MPs, asking them to support MP Graham Jones in his Metal Theft Prevention Bill.
And I would urge readers to report any thefts to the police. They might think it’s not worth it, but the police cannot allocate resources on the basis of hearsay – they need statistics.
Let’s thwart the thieves in 2012.