Operation launched to tackle metal thefts

Metal thefts cost the UK an estimated �1billion a year.

A cross-border operation is being launched by police across the South West to tackle metal thefts.

Operation Tornado is being spearheaded by the Association of Chief Police Officers to tackle the crime which costs the UK an estimated �1billion a year.

Devon and Cornwall Constabulary say Operation Tornado will make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme, constricting the market in which thieves can operate and making it more difficult to sell-on stolen goods.

It will see officers from Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Constabularies join forces.

Scrap metal yards across the region have been asked to sign up to the scheme over the last six weeks.

From Monday, anyone going to a yard to sell metal will be asked for evidence of identity in the form of a passport, national identity card or photo driving licence, supported by proof of address such as a recent utility bill.

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The operation has been trialed in Northymbria, Durham and Cleveland resulting in significant drops in metal thefts.

Detective Superintendent Paul Northcott, leading the operation for Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “In the last few months the force has been actively working with commercial premises who receive and sell scrap metal, to review their working practices.

“The theft of metal presents an ongoing problem and can not only cause substantial financial loss for people but also be extremely dangerous in its consequences.

“The theft of power and communication cables can cause death and immense disruption to commercial and private properties.

“In recent months we have also seen a rise across the two counties in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles.”

He added: “We are determined to work constructively with the industry to prevent and disrupt these thefts. We will also be looking at identifying those businesses that are flouting legislation and will be taking positive action against them.”

Anyone who sees any suspicious activity is urged to call the police and record any details of vehicles involved,

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