The number of reported crimes in the Czech Republic involving the theft of metals dropped by over 50 percent between March and November compared to the same period last year. According to the Ministry for the Environment, police recorded just over 3,400 such crimes so far this year, compared with over 8,000 during the same months last year.
Metal theft has been an ongoing problem in the Czech Republic, with thieves stealing objects made of lead, copper, iron, steel, and aluminium and subsequently selling them in scrap yards which generally accepted the goods without question.
This year, the Railway Infrastructure Administration recorded a significant drop of stolen rail tracks and cables, while the police across the Czech Republic recorded fewer thefts of manhole covers and road signs.
According to the Minister of Environment, Richard Brabec, the reduction is a result of a regulation issued on March 1 barring the payment of cash for scrap metals and allowing only payments through bank or postal order.
In an interview for the daily Blesk, the minister said that the drop in metal thefts was also connected to more frequent checks at scrap yards by the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, police, and other authorities.
The Ministry for the Environment is planning to restrict the sale of scrap metal even further. In June this year, they introduced a new strategy.
The new strategy proposes limiting the opening hours of scrap yards to day time, carrying out regular inspections, keeping a register of all purchases and introducing video surveillance systems at the facilities. It also considers granting broader powers to regional authorities, which are in charge of the scrap yards, and requiring their employees to undergo special training.
The head of the Association of Buyers and Processers of Secondary Raw Materials, Petr Miller, told the Hospodářské noviny daily earlier this year that the regulation was unlawful and resulted in a 50 percent drop of scrap purchases. He also said he was considering filing a lawsuit against the ministry.