Byline: David James
CROOKS have become the latest victims of the credit crunch.
Thieves who plundered churches, schools and railways have been hit by a collapse in the demand for scrap metal.
Dealers said the price of copper, iron and steel has plummeted in the last three months.
David Cooper, of Cooper Metal Recycling in East Moors Road, Cardiff, said it was the worst he had seen in 40 years in the business.
He said: "Fallen is an understatement.
Prices hit a peak three or four months ago and since then they have collapsed. It has devastated the business."
In South Wales, the soaring global price of commodities had driven a five-year crime spree.
Lead roofs were stolen from churches including St Saviour's Church in Splott, Cardiff, St Mary's Church in St Fagans and Elim Church near Caerphilly Castle.
Brass World War I memorial plates were stolen in Mountain Ash, Rhondda, railway lines were plundered for copper cabling, empty houses for scrap boilers and councils have been forced to spend thousands replacing stolen manhole covers. …