THEY have targeted everything from the Royal Yacht Britannia to a masonic hall.
The rise of scrap thefts and the incredible lengths which gangs will go to bag their precious loot shows no sign of abating as the cost of metal soars.
And whether it is the loss of your garden gate, a hole in the roof of your child’s school, or being delayed on the train because someone has stolen a bit of the track, sooner or later this unwanted phenomenon will affect everyone.
Which is why we today welcome the Scottish Government’s plans to crack down on the illegal trade by banning cash payments for scrap.
It seems like a sensible and reasonably straightforward idea and one which we would hope the industry will embrace.
Sure it will make it slightly more difficult for a teenage ned to cash-in on some water pipes he has “stumbled upon”, or for Arthur Daley characters to get rid of those scaffolding poles which have mysteriously fallen off the side of a building, but genuine transactions need not be affected.
It will also make it far easier for police to trace the sale of metals and investigate any suspicious transactions quickly.
The UK government has already announced similar plans, so there will be no threat of the stolen goods simply disappearing over the Border.
No-one is suggesting that this will solve the problem overnight, and if any Steptoe-like dealers still exist, they will no doubt find a way around the rules.
But at the very least, it will hopefully succeed in making life for the crooks far more difficult than the apparent free-for-all, no-questions-asked scenario which exists at the moment.
You might say it was about time the authorities showed a bit of metal to deal with this crime spree.
Boost for festival
The decision to host the star-studded premiere of Brave in Edinburgh is a fantastic boost for the city – and just the leg-up which the Film Festival needs.
Coming from the makers of such smash hits as Toy Story and Finding Nemo, it looks sure to be one of the films of 2012 and, if the predictions are correct, will have a huge impact on Scottish tourism.
The people in the know suggest the economic boost from the film will be even greater than Braveheart, so for Edinburgh to be in from the start is vital.
The more Americans who can be convinced the capital is the home of the Brave, the better.