Get involved: Send pictures, video, news and views - text NEWS SHOPPER to 80360 or email us
Metal theft in Belvedere costs businesses and residents dear, Parliament told
REPEATED metal theft in Belvedere has cost companies thousands of pounds and left 2,000 people without phone lines for four days each time.
The problem is so pronounced it was used as an example in Parliament on Friday (July 13) by MPs trying to pass a Scrap Metal Dealers’ Bill.
Talking about why a bill to reform regulations for scrap dealers was needed, Conservative MP for Croydon South, Richard Ottaway said: "What cannot be overestimated is the devastating impact that a single theft can have on the lives of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.
"Three times this year, thieves have taken BT copper cables from the same spot in Bexley.
"Each time they knocked out about 2,000 landlines for four days. An entire community of homes lost broadband, mobile signals and the internet.
"Pendant alarms on elderly people could not work. In an emergency, no one could call 999 or even a relative.
"One shudders to think of the consequences if a serious event had occurred."
Engineering firm Maybrey Reliance’s factory in Crabtree Manor Way South, Belvedere, was one of the companies struck by the three thefts.
Managing Director Douglas Hills said a conservative estimate for the cost was around £20,000.
Mr Hills, 68, said: "Most of our orders are international and come in through e-mail and three times this year we have not been able to use our phone, fax or e-mail.
"Literally hundreds of companies have been affected. It is jeopardising our businesses. It could end up costing people their jobs.
"We have got no insurance against it. If we tried to claim every time our premiums would go through the roof."
He added: "They have probably done it for about £50-worth of scrap bronze. What they will get for it is hardly anything."
Mr Hills said it was up to the police to work hard to trace stolen metal and the Government "to get a grip on it" with legislation which halts the sale of scrap metal by thieves.
Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce supported the bill, while Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire described cable theft as "wanton, selfish and callous".
He said: "Frankly those responsible deserve our contempt."