POLICE have launched a Christmas crackdown on scrap metal thieves.
Operation Kilogramme is being run over Christmas and New Year by officers from the Sunderland West division in a bid to beat thieves after a spate of thefts.
Sunderland West Neighbourhood Inspector Dave Pickett said the campaign was responding to a number of reports from members of the community about scrap metal collectors operating in their area.
He said the complaints coincided with an increase in metal thefts, including bicycles and garden items.
Inspector Pickett said: “Throughout the Sunderland West area there are a large number of scrap metal vans that spend a significant amount of time in housing estates and industrial areas looking for scrap metal items.
“Stop checks show that while we have a number of legitimate local scrap collectors, we also have people travelling into this area from all over the Northumbria Police area and beyond.
“Throughout Christmas and into the New Year, we are working with our local community and undertaking planned operations with partner agencies such as Customs and Excise, VOSA and council licensing to ensure those people carrying scrap metal are complying with the relevant legislation.
He added: “Although this operation is being launched over Christmas, local people can rest assured that it will continue until the issue is resolved.
“To do this we will be working with local scrap metal dealers, encouraging them to take part in initiatives such as the ‘responsible trader’ concept.
“And neighbourhood officers will be visiting known scrap vehicle users who travel into our area to let them know we will be keeping an eye on them.”
Police are asking anyone who sees any suspicious activity around metal collectors to contact officers in Sunderland on the 101 non-emergency number.