Tuesday 4 December saw Greater Manchester Police’s latest day of action against metal theft with more than 100 specialist operations, Special and divisional officers visiting 64 scrap metal yards across the county to ensure they were adhering to new legislation banning cash sales in scrap metal dealing.
They also targeted criminals using the roads of the county resulting in almost 500 roadside checks during which 27 vehicles being seized for road tax, MOT or insurance offences. Traffic Offence Reports were made on 241 drivers for dangerous driving and 428 drivers were caught speeding.
Four arrests were made for obstructing police, immigration offences and an employee of a scrap metal dealer was arrested for stealing from his employer.
As part of the high profile clampdown divisional and specialist operations officers as well as partners from the utility, telecoms and transport networks visited 10 scrap yards to search for stolen metals. Stolen beer kegs and gas bottles were found and officers are keen to point out that similar such operations in the last year have helped to curtail scrap metal yards knowingly or unknowingly taking in stolen metals.
The day of action was a part of Operation Alloy that was set up in 2011 in response to rising metal thefts and has helped to cut thefts by 62 per cent in the last year.
Changes to the LASPO (Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders) Act introduced this week have outlawed all cash transactions in relation to scrap metal purchases and sales and have also introduced significant increases in fines to dealers who flout it.
The law now makes it an offence to sell or buy scrap metal for cash or any form of payment other than a crossed cheque or electronic money transfer. Dealers must also be registered with the local authority as scrap metal dealer and also be licensed to carry waste.
Superintendent Craig Thompson who leads Operation Alloy said: “Today’s day of action shows our continued commitment to targeting metal thieves and stopping them damaging people’s homes, community buildings and transport, power and communication infrastructure.
“It also shows that we are using all means possible to bring thieves to justice and to stop them profiting from metal theft.
“This includes robust enforcement of the new cashless transactions legislation that makes it harder for criminals to hide their illegal activities.
“It also includes targeting criminals for related illegal activities such as driving without a licence, without insurance, MOT, Road Tax or even for driving dangerously in an unsafe vehicle putting their own and other road user’s lives at risk.
“We are also continuing to monitor scrap metal dealers to ensure that they are not supporting criminal activities through lax or illegal work practices and ensuring that they are operating within their scrap yard and waste carrier’s licences.
“We will continue this level of enforcement work into the New Year to stop metal thieves spreading misery and pain within our communities, putting ordinary people’s lives at risk and causing them and industry financial hardship.
“People can help by making their homes and business premises less vulnerable to thieves by remaining vigilant and using security lights, alarms, fencing and stout locks on gates, doors and windows and joining Homewatch and Businesswatch schemes.
“They can also help by providing information about suspected activity or thieves either directly to police on 101 or anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”