The demand in metal is being blamed on an "upsurge" of thefts across the Dungannon area in County Tyrone, which has seen two five-bar galvanised steel gates stolen.

A £120 steel bath being used as a water trough was sold in addition to the steel gates from a farm in Eglish.

Elsewhere, lead has been stripped from a number of shops in Coalisland's Main Street. The total value has been put at £500.

Empty houses have also been targeted for their valuable copper tanks.

A police spokesman told the newspaper that the robberies were becoming more prevalent because by the time it was sold at the scrap merchants, the metal would be unidentifiable.

Furthermore, the metal's street value is extremely high making it a possibly "lucrative venture" for criminals.

£500,000 worth of scrap metal was stolen from Tata steelworks in Scunthorpe last week highlighting the need for improved security fencing.

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