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Officers from the Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire, and Merseyside Forces along with colleagues from British Transport Police will today be raiding scrap metal yards and carrying out roadside checks on vehicles suspected to be handling stolen metals.
This latest crackdown comes against a backdrop of reducing metal thefts regionally and nationally. Each of the five forces in the North West report that they have helped reduce metal theft by more than 40 per cent in the last year when comparing thefts in May last year to May 2012.
Global increases in commodity prices for scrap metals especially copper and lead in the last couple of years fuelled metal thefts with thieves targeting domestic homes and community buildings.
Telecoms, electricity, water and rail and tram networks were also targeted causing widespread disruption, expensive reinstatement costs and even endangering the lives of the general public.
Robust action by police working in partnership with local councils and staff from the affected industries has helped to reduce metal thefts but officers and utility and transport providers are keen to reduce them even further.
Law-abiding scrap metal dealers have also joined the fight against metal theft by adopting work practices that make it harder for thieves to off-load stolen metals onto them. These include information sharing agreements with police on suspected metal thieves and robust recording of information on people offering scrap metal to yards.
Almost 85 per cent of the 232 scrap metal dealers in the North West have signed up to a scheme that requires people selling scrap metal to yards to provide photo ID and proof of address making it harder for rogue dealers to operate.
Superintendent Craig Thompson from Greater Manchester Police’s Specialist Operations Branch said: “Over the last year officers from BTP and all five Forces in the North West have worked hard to make the region a hostile environment for metal thieves.
“We have been confronting metal thieves on the roads and in the communities where they go about their illegal activity, arresting them for stealing what is not theirs and making them pay for driving unlicensed, untaxed, uninsured and often dangerous vehicles.
“We have also been confronting scrap metal dealers who support these crimes by turning a blind eye to what are obviously stolen goods and refusing to fulfill their legal obligations to keep full and accurate records of transactions that would help us to quickly bring thieves to justice.
“Our robust policing strategy is paying dividends in protecting law abiding people from falling victim to metal thieves. Criminals can be reassured that we have no intention of changing tactics in the coming months.
“I would urge people to help us fight metal theft by making their homes, businesses and community buildings less vulnerable to thieves by using security lights, fencing, alarms and good locks to keep thieves at bay.
“They can also help us by providing information about suspicious activity either directly to us on 101 the new single non-emergency number or anonymously through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Detective Chief Inspector Bob Qazi said “We are continuing with our efforts to tackle metal theft in Cumbria and it is good to see this hard work reflected in the decrease in the number of metal thefts.
“We will be visiting a number of yards across the County on the day of action to ensure that the dealers are checking on identification of anyone who is trading in metal and also keeping accurate records.
“Tackling metal theft will continue to be a priority for Cumbria and by making things difficult for those criminal who try to steal metal, we will be protecting our communities from becoming victims of these crimes.”