AN OPERATION is under way to crack down on illegal scrap metal collectors.
Over Christmas and into the new year, Operation Kilogramme is being run by officers throughout the west of Sunderland.
It has been launched after residents in the city contacted police about the number of scrap metal collectors operating in the area.
The complaints have coincided with an increase in thefts of metal in the form of bicycles and items from gardens.
Inspector Dave Pickett, who leads the Neighbourhood Policing Team, 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.
“Although this operation is being launched over Christmas, 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 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 11.