Police operations around the country target metal theft

Forces across Britain will be coming together on Friday 28 October to crack down on the increasing problem of thieves targeting metal and cable as part of a co-ordinated operation by the Association of Chief Police Officers

Police are targeting metal thieves as part of an operation co-ordinated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

Forces across Britain will be coming together on Friday 28 October to crack down on the increasing problem of thieves targeting metal and cable.

Metal thieves have caused misery for countless thousands of people across the country, whether through stolen lead from roofs, stolen railway cable resulting in delays and cancellations or stolen power cable causing widespread power loss.

Ten people have also died in the past year as a result of metal theft.

Whatever the crime, the net result is the same – disruption to everyday life and severe cost to the local and national economy.

ACPO lead on metal theft, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, said: “Metal theft in any form is a blight on society and sadly has been having a greater and greater impact on communities in recent months.

“The railway has experienced significant issues for some time, but throughout 2011 we have seen criminals diversifying and targeting metal from other areas, including power cables, utilities pipework, telecommunications cabling, residential properties, businesses and catalytic converters from vehicles.

“All affected industries are working together to tackle the problem, which is now a significant threat to the UK infrastructure.

“A key part of our strategy is to choke off the market for stolen metal. We are talking to the Government about stricter controls and legislative changes that will make life much more difficult for thieves and unscrupulous scrap metal dealers.

“Currently, there are still many criminals prepared to take risks to steal metal and it is these people we are targeting on 28 October.”

The latest national operation targets known suspects – carrying out pre-planned arrests and executing warrants at properties believed to be used by thieves.

Together with a variety of partner agencies, officers will also be out and about visiting scrap metal recyclers seeking to give further guidance on what to look out for when people bring metal into their yards.

Through neighbourhood policing teams, advice will also be given to residents and businesses on how to make their metal more secure and more difficult to steal. Roadside checks will be carried out to target those using the road network to transport stolen material.

DCC Crowther added: “Our extensive work with scrap metal recyclers – working with the British Metals Recycling Association to bring in a voluntary code of conduct, educating dealers about the methods used by thieves and showing dealers what stolen metal could look like – is making life more difficult for thieves, but there’s more we need to do.

“Thieves are still operating and a minority of metal recyclers knowingly operate outside the law. We intend to use all legal means – as well as powers available to partner agencies – to clamp down on this illegal trade and bring the criminals involved to justice.”

Lord Henley, Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction said:

“Metal theft is a serious and growing national problem that this government takes extremely seriously.

“That’s why we are working closely with the police, industry and other government departments on a range of initiatives. We want to make it harder to for criminals to steal metal in the first place and we’re looking at whether we need to change the law.

“Discussions are ongoing but by working together I am confident we can develop a robust and effective response.”

ACPO Website