Tornado promises to bring storm to metal thieves

New measures to combat the increasing problem of metal theft are being rolled out across the south of England.

Operation Tornado, spearheaded by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), aims to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme.

Operation Tornado will launch in all forces across the south of England in the week beginning Monday, 25 June.

British Transport Police Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead for metal theft said: “Tornado is proving very successful so far, for instance, on the railways in the north east we have seen a 69% fall in metal theft. However, this needs to be sustainable in the long term and Tornado is impacting mainly on scrap dealers who are working within the law. We still need the powers to close down those few unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law.

“I welcome Richard Ottaway’s Private Member’s Bill, which had its First Reading in the Commons last week. It is important we have a robust regulatory framework alongside police powers to impact effectively and permanently on this crime, which has blighted communities across Britain for too long.”

Tornado spokesman Chief Inspector Robin Edwards said: “Anyone who looks to sell scrap metal to participating metal recyclers across the south of England and Wales will be required to provide proof of their identity – either a photo card driving licence including an address, or a passport or national ID card supported by a utility bill, which must be under three months old and show their address.

“Operation Tornado is one of a number of measures currently being explored to restrict the sale and movement of stolen metal. It has been designed not to inhibit those dealers that operate legitimate businesses, but to remove unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law.

“We are hoping all registered scrap metal dealers will sign up to be involved to help fight the stolen metal trade and make it more difficult for thieves to make money by targeting our communities for metal.”

Metal thieves have caused misery for countless thousands of people across the country and the railway has experienced significant issues for some time, but throughout 2011 criminals began to diversify, targeting metal from other areas, including power cables, utilities pipe work, 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.

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

This week will also see a co-ordinated period of action across all forces as police and partners seek to drive home the message that metal theft in any form will not be tolerated.

British Transport Police