Police forces across the North West made 36 arrests and recovered more than £22.5 k worth of stolen metal in raids on 179 scrap yards across the region today (Wednesday 4 July).
Officers from the Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside Forces along with colleagues from British Transport Police raided scrap metal yards and carried out roadside checks on vehicles suspected to be handling stolen metals.
This latest crackdown that targeted nine out of 10 scrap yards in the North West 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 from between 39 to 48 per cent in the last year when comparing thefts in May last year to May 2012*.
Officers say that previous high impact operations like today’s have helped cut down opportunities for metal thieves to offend. They have also reduced the number of scrap yards prepared to turn a blind eye to accepting stolen goods and therefore the opportunities for thieves to off-load stolen metals.
Law-abiding scrap metal dealers have joined the fight against metal theft by adopting work practices that make it harder for thieves to turn stolen metals into cash. 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. Police are keen to get the remaining scrap dealers into the scheme to make it even harder for criminals to make a living from stealing metal.
Engineers from the telecoms, electricity, water, rail and transport networks have also been crucial in the fight against this crime by helping officers identify metals in scrap yards that may have been stolen from their networks.
Superintendent Craig Thompson from GMP’s Specialist Operations said: “We are delighted that the majority of scrap metal yards visited today were found to be operating legally and not supporting metal thieves by taking in stolen goods.
“It shows that the hard work put in by police officers across the region along with honest scrap dealers and partners from utility and transport networks is paying off and we are succeeding in putting metal thieves out of business.
“Law abiding citizens can be assured that we will be keeping up this level of enforcement in the coming months.
“People can help reduce their chances of falling victim to metal theft by securing their homes, commercial and community buildings with security lights, stout 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.”