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With the cost of scrap now at a 27-year high of around £1000 a tonne, the Association of Chief Police Officers have joined forces with the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) to launch a hotline web alert that means any metal thefts reported to police can be posted as bulletins on the BMRA website within 24 hours of notification. Anyone who has had metals stolen can set up an alert on

A BMRA spokesman said thefts had trebled in the past year, adding that the company which insures most of the UK's churches had received over 1000 claims relating to the theft of metal from the buildings. The alert system is expected to be of particular use to those trying to trace stolen statuary or antiques because the BMRA will highlight information about recognisable items, such as those of unique shape.

One company specialising in garden security has warned that this summer could see the problem of garden thefts reach an all-time high.

Gardien Ltd's security director, former police officer and crime prevention expert Mick Gains, says that the rising levels of garden theft over recent years are now being supplemented by a more immediate threat of metal theft, as prices are fuelled by demand from countries such as India and China with their insatiable and expensive appetite for raw materials.