My Dad rarely communicates with me. In fact his letters to me were so rare while I was incarcerated for 10 years at boarding school that they are framed in my office, both of them. OK so I may be exaggerating a bit but whenever I see a note forom him be it via the post or even e-mail that I have a tendency to sit up and take notice.
This evening he sent this:
On the night of August 27/28, 2011 persons unknown removed three tons of lead from the Church of St J
ames - a Grade 1 listed church where both my daughters were married. It was a well-executed professional piece of thievery. Subsequent repairs are proving time consuming and costly and I and others on the PCC are not particularly well disposed towards the perpetrators of this crime. I believe this petition is well worth signing if this sort of vandalism is going to be "brought to heel".
You can tell he is a military man and you can also tell how much he has refrained from saying. I wasn’t there when he was told in August and actually I am pretty glad because he would have been terrifying to behold. And I don’t blame him.
This is a crime that affects us all and on a daily basis.
Not long ago the whole village here in Suffolk was left without a telephone line after the cable was stolen for its copper; the other day lines were taken down on the railway causing mass disruption and making my husband miss seeing his son play in his first music recital. I dread to think how these victimless crimes have affected others, you see we don’t really think about it much because no one has stolen from us exactly but boy do we feel the consequences.
I had a quick look on the web for stories and this is what I came up with
Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/calls-for-scrap-metal-controls-after-memorial-plaques-stolen-2365166.html and http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/call-for-crackdown-on-metal-thefts-6261251.html
Daily Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8850768/Metal-theft-epidemic-one-of-biggest-threat-to-UKs-heritage.html
Manchester Evening News http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1454665_crime-gangs-move-in-on-scrap-metal-goldmine-as-prices-soar
Famers Weekly http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/11/11/2011/130032/Call-for-tougher-scrap-rule-to-stop-farm-crime.htm
Then I tried to work out why this was going on it was fairly simple really: scrap metal prices are amazingly high and the thing is when you take scrap metal to the scrap dealer they pay you in cash no questions asked. I know I’ve done it. No I haven’t stolen metal, I have taken the scrap I found round the farm and it was very pleasant indeed to get cash in hand for my pains.
But it also opens up the whole thing to serious abuse. The kind of abuse we are now seeing all over the country.
If people were paid in cheques or straight to their bank accounts there would be a massive drop in this kind of theft because there would be a paper trail to catch the thieves. Overnight this crime could be dramatically halted.
Please read this and sign up. When I signed it was about 32,600. It would be great to get it to 100,000 before Christmas!
SCRAP METAL MERCHANTS ACT 1964
You may be familiar with the downsides of the terms of this Act. It allows the scrap metal 'industry' to be a cash business which is a great help to metal thieves - 'ask no questions tell no lies'. The 'cash for scrap' rules are a fantastic business opportunity for thieves when metal prices are so high. Little wonder churches are suffering so much lead theft and the railways even more copper theft. You may also have seen in the press recently reports of the theft of metal plaques from village war memorials A proposed amendment to the Act to prohibit cash transactions would make payment by cheque or directly into a bank account mandatory and would be a significant component in reducing metal theft. However other more pressing parliamentary business means that the quickest way for this Act to be amended is by a massive public lobby so it has to be debated by the House of Commons. The only other event that may get the Government to take the matter seriously as an emergency debate is if the rail networks grind to a halt or there is a terrible accident because signalling cable is stolen.
Please could you organise for everyone you know with an email address to support this petition to the Home Office, asking for this change to the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964. It needs to have 100,000 signaturies
To sign just click http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/406 and then click 'Sign this petition'