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Edinburgh tackles metal thieves with “DNA” building signatures

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August 11 2011

Edinburgh tackles metal thieves with “DNA” building signatures
Metal laden buildings in Edinburgh are to be coated in a special “DNA” smart water to ascribe a unique forensic identity to high value targets in a bid to scupper gangs of metal thieves operating in the city.

Treated surfaces will show up on suspect’s skin and clothing, providing an indisputable link between individual thieves and the scene of their crimes.

Exasperated officials at Edinburgh City Council will also install ‘dummy’ metals on council properties - materials with the same performance as metals but which hold no value in the illegal scrap metal market.

Recent months have witnessed an estimated £177k worth of damage wrought to schools and other properties, more than double the equivalent tally last year - as emboldened thieves ramp up their pilfering of copper and lead.

Councillor Phil Wheeler, Convenor of the Finance and Resources committee, said: "This is a serious problem and a major unwanted burden on the city's budget. A thief may only receive a few thousand pounds for the stolen lead but it costs a lot more to replace and, as can be seen in buildings such as Liberton High, if not detected immediately the damage can be severe.

"Such criminal activity diverts time and money away from our existing building maintenance and improvement programmes. Regrettably, it may be impossible to completely stop determined thieves but we are to set on making their lives more difficult.

"We also need the public’s help and I would urge anyone who is suspicious about work taking place on a building to contact us to check. We would much rather receive a false alarm than have another theft take place".

McDonald  Road Library, Lauriston Castle and the Ross bandstand have all been brazenly stripped of metals recently under cover of phony renovation work.

1 Comment

Geoff Crowley
#1 Posted by Geoff Crowley on 12 Aug 2011 at 13:29 PM
Sometimes I wonder why people specify expensive metals in construction. In some cases (lead flashings) it's for the mechanical properties, and thats hard to beat. In other cases (Copper roofing for example) the same aesthetics can be acheived with a coating on low cost undesirable hard to detach metals (steel), mostly at lower cost initially and with lower desirability. Coatings can often deliver a finish that at a viewing distance of a couple of metres, are indistinguishable from the metal being emulated.

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