MORE than £1 million is being paid out every week by insurers because of the scourge of the metal thieves.
Across the country, there are now 1,000 metal thefts per week, and the knock-on effect of the disruption caused has been estimated to cost the economy £770 million a year.
The Association of British Insurers are set to debate the issue at a conference involving insurers, the Government and British Transport Police.
The voice of the insurance industry said that in the past five years incidents had doubled to 1,000 per week, and 300 tonnes of metal was stolen per week - the equivalent of 300 cars.
In Calderdale, metal theft has hit businesses, homes and even memorials.
Earlier this year, Ridings Sports Centre at Club Lane in Ovenden had to shut for more than two weeks after 30 metres of cabling was stolen.
Meanwhile, Esso on Skircoat Road in Halifax town centre also had to shut after copper cabling was stolen.
Nick Starling, the association’s director of general insurance, said: “Metal thieves are putting lives at risk, causing expensive damage and massive disruption.
“From delayed train journeys to loss of telephone and internet connections, to damaged churches, most people are affected by this crime.
“We support Government action to make it harder to sell on stolen metal and tougher penalties for offenders.
“Insurers have a key role to play, not only compensating those insured, but in helping their customers take sensible security measures to reduce this ever-present threat. This is why we are working with the Government to crack down on metal thefts”. Anyone with information about metal theft should call police via 101.