July 28, 2008

Light-Fingered Thieves Make Off With Office’s Chandelier


Police believe fitting and radiators taken for scrap metal value

THIEVES have made off with a chandelier from a property in the New Town because the metal frame is now worth more than the crystal ornaments it supports.

Police said the theft from Albyn Place is the latest example of criminals looking to cash in on the soaring price of scrap metal.

A plaster mixer, four radiators and a quantity of wire were also taken from the property, which is being converted into offices.

Dc Ash Pitblado, of the city centre divisional crime unit, said: "The chandelier was fitted to the roof and the radiators had also been fitted to the wall, so the thieves would have had to remove them and probably got away in a van.

"The contractor was quite confused when they took the plaster mixer as well, because it was clearly not of much value for a second- hand sale, but we explained that all of the items - including the chandelier and radiators - will probably be sold on for scrap.

"It's hard to say how much these items are worth because the price just keeps going up and up in response to growing demand from abroad. We think most of these items will probably find their way to China, although there is a chance the radiators will be used in another renovation."

A second property, being renovated in nearby York Place, was the subject of two break-ins, with copper piping stolen twice in the space of three days this month.

Detectives have visited scrap dealers across the Lothians to examine their books in a bid to trace the criminal gangs behind the metal thefts.

At least 140 iron manhole covers have been stolen across the Lothians, including 40 in Portobello in recent months.

In addition, lead was stripped from the Playfair Observatory on Calton Hill, and two huge bronze propellers from the Royal Yacht Britannia were also stolen.

Police later recovered one of the propellers, which are worth around GBP 7500 each.

Organised gangs have also targeted building sites and industrial yards in recent months, looking to cash in on the soaring price of metals fuelled by a building boom in China and India.

Grahame Hamilton of Hamilton Waste and Recycling in Musselburgh said there had been an increase in the number of people trying to sell scrap metal because of the high prices.

He said he keeps a keen eye on what is brought in to try and avoid any stolen goods: "Just generally we are getting more people bringing in old waste and cars and so on. We obviously watch what people are bringing in and if it looks a bit dodgy we inform the authorities."

Metal thefts

July: Lead ripped off the roof of the Playfair Observatory just weeks after workmen repaired it.

* June 2: Thieves steal two propellers from the Royal Yacht Britannia worth GBP 7500 each. One is later recovered.

* May: 40 manhole covers stolen in Portobello.

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