Calls were today made for a change in scrap metal laws in a bid to halt thefts across the Fylde coast.
Poulton-based Neighbourhood Watch chief Norman Irish believes his group’s national campaign to prevent the scrap metal trade continuing as a cash-in-hand industry is a positive step.
Almost 35,000 people have signed a government petition supporting an amendment to the law prohibiting cash transactions and making payment by cheque or directly into a bank account mandatory.
Mr Irish (right), chairman of the Lancashire Neighbourhood Watch forum, said he would like to promote the campaign.
He said: “Obviously with the value of metal on the up we have to look at other ways of preventing scrap metal theft, this is a positive step.
“If it is illegal to just hand over cash and more details are required it would hopefully put a stop or reduce the number of rogue sales.”
Earlier this month police admitted metal thieves are plaguing the Fylde coast as figures revealed thefts have risen by 400 per cent.
Blackpool’s renowned seafront sculpture by Sir Peter Blake, the Model Village, statues at Stanley park, Fleetwood magistrates Court, Collegiate High School, Fleetwood Cemetery, Kirkham Baths, St John’s Church in Lytham and Blackpool’s Salvation Army buildings have all been targeted.
The figures released this month showed there were 689 metal theft crimes reported between January and September this year – an extra 500 than in the same period last year.
Police have vowed to stamp out the problem with operations across the coast but Neighbourhood Watch groups are calling for a change in the law.
Jim Maddan, chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch Network, added: “For too long, dodgy scrap metal dealers have been running a cash only business with no records of transactions.
“All we are asking for is for a move to a cashless business model.
“The existing legislation is nearly 50-years-old and out of date”.