Smart operation to stop cable chaos

Police are marking lots of properties in Knottingley with Smartwater because it's a metal theft hotspot.Pictured: PC McNulty marking a boiler.
Police are marking lots of properties in Knottingley with Smartwater because it's a metal theft hotspot.Pictured: PC McNulty marking a boiler.
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POLICE have found a smart way to thwart metal thieves in a national cable crime hotspot.

Officers from Pontefract and Knottingley neighbourhood policing team (NPT) and Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) have joined forces to security mark pipework at properties in Knottingley – branded as one of the worst areas in the country for metal theft offences.

Over the next few weeks, officers from both organisations will be visiting WDH homes in the town to mark them with Smartwater – an indelible liquid that contains a unique forensic code only visible if examined under ultra-violet light.

Police routinely check people arrested for the presence of Smartwater to see if the substance is on their skin or their clothing.

Sgt Dan Tillet, of the NPT, said: “We are working hard to prevent metal theft and cut off the networks that help thieves get rid of their ill-gotten gains.”

The initiative is the latest in a number of operations to tackle metal theft across the district.

As reported in the Express last month, shocking statistics from the British Transport Police revealed Knottingley and Castleford are among the worst-hit areas for cable theft – with offences in the Five Towns causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of chaos on the rail network.

The theft of overhead cable was also ruled as the cause of a massive explosion which ripped through a row of terraces on Rhodes Street in Hightown, Castleford, last July.

Gary Lumb, community safety manager for WDH, said: “We work extremely hard to make sure our tenants and their properties remain safe and secure at all times so we are very pleased to work with the police and Smartwater technology to develop our first property marking scheme of this nature.

“By applying Smartwater to metal pipework, central heating equipment and tenants’ own personal possessions, it will act as a deterrent to those who wish to commit crime in this area.”