POLICE have teamed up to drive metal thieves off the region’s roads.
Northumbria and Durham officers joined forces with Cleveland and North Yorkshire police to target the growing number of scrap metal thieves, collectors and dealers.
During last week’s one–day blitz – the third in the last two months – a quantity of cable was recovered, arrests were made for a series of offences and eight vehicles were seized.
Chief Inspector Bob Ryan, of Northumbria Police, said: “Along with other forces, Northumbria Police has seen an increase in metal thefts.
“It is a global issue believed to be caused by a rise in the worldwide price of copper, lead and other metals.
“We are aware of the problems this type of crime causes and are working hard with our partners to tackle it.
“We will continue to work with our partners to combat metal theft, targeting offenders and unlicensed scrap collection.
“As well as causing inconvenience for the victims, such crime can also be extremely dangerous for those committing the crime, especially when it involves electrical cabling.”
The Northumbria Police part of the operation saw scrap yards across the region visited, with owners being urged to sign up to Northumbria Police’s voluntary code of conduct.
Motor patrol officers from Northumbria and Durham also set up camp on the A690 and around the area of the A692 towards Burnopfield to carry out vehicle checks on suspicious vehicles.
Tuesday’s day of action was followed by another effort launched in East Durham on Thursday.
Officers from Operation Hansel worked with beat officers to carry out checks at the weighbridge at Wellfield, off the A19.
The day, which also involved VOSA, HM Revenue and Customs and Durham County Council, resulted in seven men being dealt with for minor traffic offences.
A Transit van was seized for having no insurance and one dealer was dealt with for not having a waste carrier licence.
A further eight vehicles were found to be on the road with defects, with the owners being served notices to have the repairs completed.
Temporary Sergeant Andy Sutherland, who leads the Hansel team, said: “This is about reassuring the public that we are are tacking metal theft very seriously. Metal theft is very much a priority and we will be looking at how we can develop this work more.”
The theft of metal is believed to cost the UK’s economy between £500million and £750million each year.