Roof top crime prevention
Dated: 16 Oct 2007
A spate of lead thefts from rooftops in Wallsend has led to a high rise crime prevention response from Northumbria Police.
Officers are investigating numerous thefts of lead from rooftops across the town over recent months costing property owners thousands of pounds.
In a bid to beat the thieves, police have launched a crime prevention initiative to make householders and business aware of the problem.
Lead on premises throughout the Wallsend area is being marked with Smartwater, which is being accompanied by poster and leaflet publicity to highlight the campaign to members of the public and to potential thieves.
Each dose of SmartWater, a unique and invisible liquid, contains individual DNA code which is registered to the property owner.
This information is kept on a computer database and if the item is stolen and recovered by police the rightful owners can be quickly traced. Smartwater shows up under ultra violet light enabling the location it came from to be identified and providing evidence to support prosecution of the thieves or handlers of the stolen property.
Inspector Jon Trafford, Wallsend Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: "The cost of lead has increased so much it has now become such a valuable commodity and is attractive to thieves who are willing to risk climbing onto roofs to steal it.
"Unfortunately this is a doubly costly crime for property owners. Not only will they need to replace the roof lead but they may also suffer damage to their property if water leaks through the missing lead.
"Unless someone sees this theft take place it can be some time before the crime is discovered. This means we would ask anyone who sees any suspicious activity to call police straightaway."
Cllr Eddie Darke, cabinet member with responsibility for community safety, said: "North Tyneside Council is giving 100 per cent support to this crime prevention initiative.
"This type of theft can cause widespread disruption to home owners and traders whose properties suffer water damage. We would also back the call for residents to contact the police if they see any suspicious activity."