By Cara Sulieman
COUNCIL’S across Scotland have had more than half a million pounds worth of property stolen over the last year.
Thieves have even lifted children’s play equipment and flowers from cemeteries in the nationwide crime spree.
West Lothian Council was the worst hit, with a whopping £68,688 worth of items stolen in the last financial year.
The range of items nicked go from memory sticks up to costly items such as diggers, vans, a £22,000 gritter and a £10,00 aerial platform.
And hundreds of mobile phones, laptops, computers and digital cameras have been reported stolen.
Even Scotland’s bard was effected when vandals cut cast iron thistles from Burns’ mausoleum in Dumfries.
Bizarre loot included a road sign in Stromness and three bouncy castles in Ayrshire.
And one crook made off with the CCTV equipment designed to stop theft.
But the problems could be much worse as many councils don’t have a record of the items taken.
Some said they don’t distinguish between lost and stolen goods and others stated that they only keep a record of items worth more than £100.
Of West Lothian Council’s massive loss, £55,017 was thanks to stolen library books.
But East Lothian said that they didn’t have any record of stolen items at all.
And over in the wee county, Clackmannanshire Council reported just one £250 camera being nicked.
The soaring price of scrap metal has also caused problems across the country, with Argyll and Bute Council saying £60,000 worth of lead had been ripped off the roof of the former Clyde Community Education Centre in Helensburgh.
Thieves in Montrose were the most callous, stealing £2,800 worth of polyanthus plants from flowerbeds in Sleepyhillock Cemetery.
Matthew Elliott from the TaxPayers’ Alliance said it was inevitable that council’s would have items stolen, but was appalled that some of the authorities didn’t keep more detailed records.
He said: “It’s a damning reflection of how little these officials care for our cash that some are not even keeping proper records of what property they have.
“There is simply no excuse for large items like desktop computers apparently going missing.
“Staff need to take more responsibility for equipment purchased with taxpayers’ money and they should be held to account if it gets lost on their watch.”
And David Smith, secretary of the Burns Howff Club in Dumfries was disgusted by the discretion of Burns’ final resting place.
He said: “I’m outraged by this attack on the grave of the national bard.
“Thieves in Burns’ day would have been put in the stockade until they expunged their crimes.
“Perhaps that would teach these modern day crooks to respect Scotland’s history.”