POLICE stopped more than 100 vehicles as part of an operation targeting scrap metal thieves.
For the past seven days, officers have been targeting those stealing metal from across the Hetton and Houghton areas.
Officers have also visited scrap metal yards to make sure details of transactions were recorded correctly – as required by law.
Aimed at criminals travelling through the region, police along with staff from Vehicle and Operating Standards Agency (VOSA), DVLA and HM Revenue and Customs, carried out more than 100 vehicle checks.
Ten drivers were issued with summonses for use and document offences, nine vehicle defect rectification scheme (VDRS) notices were handed out to motorists and four vehicles were uplifted under section 165 of the Road Traffic Act.
One van was seized by Customs for using red diesel, two people were summonsed by the Environment Agency, one person was reported for benefit offences and a fixed penalty notice was given to a driver not wearing a seatbelt.
Chief Inspector George Maratty, of Northumbria Police, said: “Thieves are taking advantage of people leaving metal items in back gardens and yards and cashing in on the stolen goods.
“Focused operations such as this send out a clear message that we are taking action to disrupt this type of criminal behaviour and make sure those responsible face the consequences.
“Scrap metal dealers must be licensed – carrying out these checks means we can take action against those who are acting unlawfully and potentially responsible for metal thefts.
“Motor Patrols regularly carry out operations on arterial routes to disrupt criminals travelling throughout the region. We know most scrap metal thieves will travel to another area to sell on their stolen goods and this activity allows us to prevent this from happening.”
Inspector Lisa Musgrove, said: “We know residents in the local community are concerned about scrap metal thefts and are working to address these concerns.”
Crackdown on shoplifters
Police have the spotlight on shoplifters this week as part of a forcewide crackdown on thieves.
Officers will be focusing on the busiest shopping areas - including the Bridges in Sunderland and the Galleries in Washington - carrying out extra high visibility patrols at key times.
Plain clothed officers will also be patrolling shops to target those people suspected of being involved in retail crimes in the city.
Patrols will be carried out in supermarkets where offences are known to take place to both deter offenders and catch those stealing from shops.
Sunderland Inspector Jamie Southwell said: “Stores have CCTV cameras, products have security tags and shop staff have been trained to spot potential thieves. With the introduction of Shopwatch schemes they can share information with other shops and police quickly.
“There is nowhere to hide for thieves in Sunderland and the operation this week will highlight the continued work of police to reduce offences in the city.”