Desperate Blackburn thief risks going to jail just to steal a 10p metal chain (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Desperate Blackburn thief risks going to jail just to steal a 10p metal chain
THIS is the moment a desperate thief stole a rusty old chain worth a paltry 10p.
The thief risked being prosecuted by spending 20 minutes trying to loosen the chain outside a shop on a busy main road with pedestrians and hundreds of cars passing by.
At one point a police car drove past the scene in Whalley Range, Blackburn.
Adrian Crook, 57, manager at Handy Hire, where the chain was stolen from, said: "It is metal theft gone mad.”
Chief Inspector Joanne McHugh, from Eastern Division, said the theft was a prime example of the lengths thieves would now go to.
She said: “Thieves are taking more risks than ever to carry out offences.
“It is not just the value of the metal that impacts upon the victim but also the disruption it brings and the collateral damage.”
The incident comes after spate of metal thefts across East Lancashire.
Earlier this year a large bronze bell was stolen from St Mary's Church, in Darwen.
And police launched an investigation after a number of exhaust thefts were reported in the Ribble Valley.
It is believed the systems were stolen for the platinum metal contained in the catalytic converter.
Metal thieves have also risked their lives by stealing miles of overhead electricity cables in Ribchester and rural Pendle.
In the latest incident, which happened at 6pm yesterday, the thief can be seen on CCTV footage sitting down in front of the shop.
He uses a black bag to hide his hand as she pulls the 20-foot chain off the wall.
Pedestrians are seen walking within a few feet of him, unaware he is committing a crime.
Mr Crook, who has worked at the firm for 25 years, said the chain was used to keep cement mixers secure outside his premises.
He said: "I would never have dreamt in a million years someone would take a rusty old chain and spend so much time doing it.
It just shows these metal thieves are desperate to steal anything.
"The chain must be worth about 10 pence. I worry about the fillings in my teeth now if these people are that desperate."
"The man just came along and sat down outside my shop.
"He tries to hide what he is doing with a plastic bag and goes to great lengths to evade detection.
"Some people pass him and he stops, then he starts again when they go past.
"He spends 20 minutes of his life to get something hardly of any value. It's unbelievable.
"The chain is worthless, I don't think he could get more than tuppance for it."
East Lancashire MP Graham Jones, who is campaigning for more regulation of the scrap metal industry, said thieves were taking more risks to try and make a little bit of cash.
He said: "This thief is desperate, and people are behaving in more desperate ways, but that's no excuse. People who steal a metal chain are just as bad as those who steal a large amount.
"We need to press the government for further action. Police locally are making more effort and there have been a number of operations in the area within the scrap metal industry to catch those who are trading or buying in stolen scrap metal."
Mr Jones is now backing a private members bill by Croyden MP Richard Ottaway to regulate the scrap metal industry.
He said: "I have done a lot in Parliament with Richard Ottaway to highlight the issue. It is a national problem and we need to tackle the organised crime element in East Lancashire.
“By bringing in more robust licensing scheme, we can make sure fit and proper people are selling the metal."
Chief Inspector Joanne McHugh said: "The public has a key role to play to keep their property safe from lead and metal theft and I urge people to take additional precautions such as storing wheelbarrows, bins and ladders securely; considering the use of anti-vandal paint; regularly checking their roofs and installing security lighting.
"Anything suspicious should be reported to the police.”