Spate of St Albans copper thefts hit home for Herts Advertiser

PUBLISHED: 15:01 27 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:56 06 May 2010

A CATALOGUE of thefts of building materials have taken place across the district over the past year, and the Herts Advertiser has reported on many. But last week this newspaper also fell victim to the crime spree, with more than £3,500 of copper piping se

A CATALOGUE of thefts of building materials have taken place across the district over the past year, and the Herts Advertiser has reported on many.

But last week this newspaper also fell victim to the crime spree, with more than £3,500 of copper piping serving our air-conditioning system being stolen from our office in Porters Wood, St Albans.

But we have to admit we were less than impressed with the police response when the theft - which will cost between £25-30,000 to repair - was reported.

It didn't even warrant a visit from an officer and that same afternoon a generic letter, telling us that due to "a lack of sufficient evidence" police would not be pursuing the investigation, was sent out - to the wrong address.

Despite being told that the Herts Advertiser was no longer based at Campfield Road, the police sent the letter to our old address and it was forwarded on.

Granted, when it was initially reported we did not know the extent or value of the damage, but the police were told that those details would follow - and they did, the next day.

Soon after the Herts Advertiser complained about this treatment to our dedicated press officer, who insisted the way our crime had been handled wasn't standard practice, we received a visit from an extremely helpful PC.

He assessed the damage and visited other businesses on the industrial estate and managed to uncover CCTV footage of a van thought to have been used in a similar theft at a neighbouring property. An investigation is now underway.

In response to our complaint, central area detective inspector Martin Turpin said: "When the crime was initially reported, the full extent of the damage was unknown and officers were advised there was no CCTV images that could be used either. As a result the crime was closed as it was deemed that there were no further lines of enquiry.

"Unfortunately a break-down in communication meant that a letter, stating that as there were initially no further lines of enquiry the investigation had been closed, was sent to the newspaper's old offices which is very regrettable."

"Opportunities to re-examine this case have now presented themselves and we are doing everything we can to take the investigation forward."

He added: "We take business-related crime very seriously and in St Albans have had some notable success. Burglaries at businesses have reduced by seven per cent which equates to 38 fewer crimes. We have detected 44 more offences so far this year compared with last year, with 148 business burglaries being solved and the offenders brought to account."

Anyone with any information regarding the theft from the Herts Ad building, which happened between 5.30pm on Friday, February 12, and 9am on Tuesday, February 16, should contact the police on 0845 33 00 222.


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