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Welsh school closes after thieves target copper heating system
Published:  24 February, 2012

A Welsh school has been forced to close after thieves broke in overnight and stole copper pipes from its heating system.

The theft caused thousands of pounds worth of flooding damage at Ysgol Gyfun Llanhari school, which has been previously been targeted by copper thieves, who then stole lead from the roof.

Councillor Eudine Hanagan, cabinet member for education, told the BBC: "I am absolutely appalled by the blatant theft and vandalism at Ysgol Gyfun Llanhari. Apart from this, we are outraged that our communities are endangered and upset by the mindless theft of metal from our street lighting columns, roads and even precious buildings such as churches and crematoriums.

The local authority said metal theft is costing it more then £250,000 per year. 

Industries all over the country have been reporting growing incidents of metal theft - particularly copper - in recent months as the price of the material has risen. Plumbers and their vans have been particularly badly hit by the trend.

Cheltenham-based plumber Owen Thomas criticised "soft policing" after thieves who twice stole copper piping from his home were released only with a caution.

Home secretary Theresa May has now announced to tackle these metal thefts. If implemented, fines for all offences listed under the 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers Act will rise, and cash payments for scrap metal would be banned. Critics have said the new laws don't go far enough.