“My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time —
To let the punishment fit the crime —
The punishment fit the crime”
Over the last year or so many local churches, under and over ground trains, graveyards, cemeteries, war memorials, street and road signs, lightning conductors and many buildings have been targeted by unscrupulous metal thieves. In one local church enormous damage has been done not only to the roof but, by letting water in, to the very fine organ which will be very expensive to restore. And this church has been targeted several times and for a time members of the congregation slept in the church to deter the thieves.
Little seems to be done to apprehend the criminals who, up and down the country, commit this despicable act but perhaps even more important, what about the reprehensible scrap metal dealers who are happy to buy the metal “no questions asked”. If there were no scrap metal dealers prepared to accept stolen metal there wouldn’t be a problem.
But what punishment can be imposed on those who are guilty that might fit the crime and the misery it causes? One might have thought that War Memorials would be sacrosanct. What sort of penalty or punishment would fit the stealing of the brass plates commemorating those who gave their lives in two world wars? Or what would fit those totally heartless scoundrels who desecrated the local cemetery taking the brass markers from graves and cremation plots or those who are accessories in this crime by receiving the stolen plagues.
Perhaps the guilty should be made to compensate the bereaved, to pay for the restoration of the organ and so on but the problem is they will probably never be caught and if they were how could they make any payment as most of the thieves don’t work. Presumably the dealers could do so out of their ill-gotten profits. It seems to me that regrettably this is a low priority crime.