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15 June 2010, 00:00
Schools and Businesses in Ringwood have been targetted 16 times in the last month
The safer New Forest Partnership is spending £2000 to buy DNA Grease-marking kits to help police officers track down and prosecute metal thieves and to work with communities to prevent or make it harder to get away with this crime.
Sgt Rick Gallagher of Ringwood Safer Neighbourhood Team says:
"this crime is particularly distressing for the victim as in many cases they are oftern unaware of the theft until their premises are flooded due to rain incursion through the damaged roof.
The cost to the victim in disproportionate to the value of the stolen lead. We are appealing to the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity as soon as it happens. Anybody convicted of lead theft faces a maximum term of imprisionment of seven years and we will be actively pursuing anyone convicted for the full replacement and repair costs by way of compensation."
The DNA grease is a thick, sticky, non-drying substance which is almost impossible to remove completely once applied. It fluoresces under UV light and each batch contains its own unique chemical DNA signature, which is forensically identifiable.
As well as marking the metal, the product will also mark any person who comes in contact with it and will remain on skin and clothing, even after washing.
Scrap lead and copper is currently at its highest value for two years and still rising.
The kits have been distributed to non-residential premises which have been targeted by the thieves in a bid to prevent and detect further lead thefts. Many of the businesses targeted have replaced the stolen lead with a substitute that has no scrap value, ensuring that they will not become repeat victims.
Anybody convicted of lead thefts faces a maximum term of imprisonment of seven years. Police will be actively pursuing anyone convicted for the full replacement costs by way of compensation.