Tue, Feb 07, 2012 - Page 9 News List

What else do British thieves target?

By Patrick Kingsley  /  The Guardian

Sheep: Rustling is on the rise. More than 60,000 were stolen last year — sparking a 250 percent rise in insurance claims from bereft farmers. In September last year, rustlers stole 1,400 sheep from a farm in Lincolnshire — the largest livestock theft for a quarter of a century. The National Farmers’ Union puts the spike down to an increase in the price of lamb. Between July 2008 and July last year, the cost of a kilo of lamb chops rose from £10.39 (US$16.37) to £14.24.

Copper: Theft of the metal reached an all-time high last year, after its price doubled to £5,000 per tonne. Much of it is stolen from railway lines in well-rehearsed operations, according to Network Rail’s Robin Gisby.

“It goes in a container to Hull docks and ends up in China. We [inadvertently] buy it back and then it’s back on the railway again,” Gisby says.

The damage to railway lines is said to have delayed British trains by more than 16,000 hours over the past three years.

Gasoline: Astronomical fuel prices have sparked a hike in its theft. More than 1,500 incidents were reported last year — a year-on-year increase of about 17 percent. The perpetrators will often siphon thousands of liters from gas stations (one Hull garage has even reported a 4,000 liter hit), but individual cars have also been targeted. Breakdown recovery firms have reported an increase in call-outs to cars with broken fuel leads.

CDs and DVDs: Once a bread-and-butter quarry for burglars, these are now stolen during only 7 percent of burglaries — down from 20 percent in 2004. The fall is linked to the £3 drop in album prices over the past decade and the rise in online media consumption

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