Best of Web: £20,000 spent to trap 47p thieves

Operation overkill: £20,000 to trap pair who stole 47p of scrap


It claims to have been hit hard by spending cuts, but one constabulary spared no expense in tackling the pilfering of scrap... worth  47p.

Alerted to two salvagers rummaging through a recycling centre, Gloucester Police sent a helicopter, two vans, three patrol cars and two dog units, said the Daily Mail.

The crack squad managed to apprehend Owen Gray and Angela Cubitt, who had helped themselves to a games console and a power drill – with a combined scrap value of 47p.

The pair said they were told the operation, which involved eight officers, had cost £20,000.

Mr Gray, 50, said: ‘I am unemployed, so cannot go out and buy this stuff. I pick up whatever catches my eye and try to fix it. All they do with the stuff at the tip is crush it and burn the plastic.

‘I go around to the tip about once a month looking for things to salvage and fix up.
‘I have recovered television monitors and computers from there before. I know they have to catch criminals and what I did was wrong – but to send eight officers seemed a very over-the-top response.

‘It’s crazy that they sent out so many resources when they’re shouting about how much they need to save. When they let us out, a copper told me it had cost £20,000 to get us nicked and that the items cost only 47p scrap.’

The out-of-work computer engineer was fined £20 while Miss Cubitt, 34, was released without charge. The pair were arrested last month walking home from their visit to the unmanned Hempsted Household Recycling Centre in Gloucester.

The helicopter spotted them first and they were picked up by an officer with dogs at around 10pm. The were held in a cell overnight before questioning the next day. Mr Gray was allowed to pay £20 to a charity through a scheme that allows officers to deal with small crimes without using the courts.

Superintendent Gary Thompson defended the arrests.

‘We take reports of crimes in progress very seriously, as the public would expect, and allocate resources based on how many officers are available, the quality of the information received and the area we need to cover,’ he said.

‘I make no apology, least of all to any offenders, for responding seriously to an incident like this and would urge the person responsible to think more about the impact their actions had.

‘In the past, people stealing from tips have been responsible for other burglaries or thefts that have had a great impact on the community.

‘It is important not to downgrade our response based on the location of the crime, or the value of the goods.’

In February it was reported that budget cuts could cost the force more than 350 officers and civilian staff over the next two years. Chief Constable Tony Melville said he hoped to save £8million by trimming management and support costs.
Arctic ozone layer hole is 'growing at record rate'


The ozone layer, which shields us from the sun’s harmful rays, has undergone record depletion over the Arctic, experts have warned.

They blame the combination of a long, cold winter and lingering CFCs in the atmosphere for the 40 per cent plunge, the Daily Mail reported.

Although levels of ozone at the Poles do vary seasonally, the record loss has caused alarm because it allows more harmful UV light to reach the Earth’s surface, raising the odds of sunburn, skin cancer and eye damage.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) revealed that ozone column loss had reached 40 per cent this spring.

A spokesperson for the WMO said: 'Depletion of the ozone... has reached an unprecedented level over the Arctic this spring because of the continuing presence of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere and a very cold winter in the stratosphere.

'If the ozone depleted area moves away from the pole and towards lower latitudes one can expect increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation as compared to the normal for the season.

'Some crops and forms of marine life can also suffer adverse effects.'

The highest ozone loss previously recorded over the Arctic, about 30 per cent, occurred in several seasons over the past 15 years or so, according to the WMO.

But any increase in UV radiation over lower latitudes away from the Arctic - which could affect parts of Canada, Nordic countries, Russia and Alaska in the United States - would not be of the same intensity as one suffers in the tropics.

UV-B rays have been linked to skin cancer, cataracts and damage to the human immune system.

Members of the public were urged by the WMO to check their national UV forecasts after the warning.

Unlike over Antarctica, large ozone loss is not an annually recurring phenomenon in the Arctic stratosphere, where meteorological conditions vary much more each year.

The record ozone loss over the Arctic comes despite the 'very successful' Montreal Protocol aimed at cutting production and consumption of ozone-destroying chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons.

The substances were once present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers, but have been phased out.

The WMO said that due to the long lifetimes of these compounds in the atmosphere, it will take several decades before their concentrations return to pre-1980 levels, the target laid down in the 1987 pact.
Thief left trapped in recycling bin after accomplice runs away

A would-be thief got stuck inside a clothes recycling bin as he tried to steal himself a new outfit.

The 28-year-old man was trapped for four hours inside the bin at a car park in Bradley Stoke, near Bristol, after security swooped and his accomplice fled, the Daily Mail reported.

Firefighters were called to cut the man free when he found he was unable to climb out of the charity box.

Footage showed the man entering head-first, while his accomplice held on to his legs. He gradually wriggled further inside, before his feet disappeared from view.

His accomplice fled the scene after security appeared, leaving the man trapped.

According to a police statement, the fire service had to remove the roof of the bin to free the man.

'One man had climbed into the bins and was seen to remove items and hand it to the man outside,' the police said.

'When they were approached one man ran off and one remained inside.

'A 28-year-old man from Filton was arrested on suspicion of theft, interviewed and issued with a caution.

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