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Clamp down on metal theft

An operation aimed at reducing the sale and movement of stolen scrap metal is being introduced in the county this month.

Metal theft is one of the fastest rising crimes in the UK. Influenced by commodity prices the problem spans across the country and affects homes, communities, industry, telecoms, transport and commerce, and is costing millions.

Operation Tornado is a joint initiative between police, British Transport Police, HMRC and the environmental agency. It has already been introduced in a number of police forces that have since seen significant reductions in metal thefts. The operation is now due to be rolled out throughout the country by October 2012, beginning with Suffolk on 11 June.

The idea behind the initiative is to work in partnership with scrap dealers in order to deter and detect metal thefts by making it easier to trace those selling it.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), The Home Office, British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) and British Transport Police (BTP) have drawn up a set of identification measures that will be used at all participating scrap yards.

Sites who are part of the initiative will request evidence of identity from all persons disposing of metals for cash payment in the form of a UK photocard driving licence or a UK passport supported by a utility bill with the seller’s current address. Failure to produce identification of this nature will mean that no transaction will take place.

This will create audit trials that will give police a greater opportunity to trace those who are benefiting from metal theft.

Police and partner agencies will be visiting scrap yards in the county in the upcoming weeks to encourage them to become involved in the initiative. Following this both participating and non-participating yards will be regularly visited by officers who will gather information about the sellers and movement of scrap metal.

It is hoped that this approach will reduce the amount of outlets that are willing to take scrap metal without holding details of the sellers.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Mattin who is leading the operation said:

“Metal theft is a fast rising crime and poses a real and significant threat to public safety, critical national infrastructure and has a significant impact on communities.

“The introduction of these identification measures is an opportunity for the recycling/scrap metal industry to take the initiative and, with the support of the police and other agencies, remove unscrupulous dealers from the market.

“We will be checking participating yards regularly and those who are not participating will be the focus of enforcement work by police and partner agencies.”

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