ROGUE dealers are trawling the streets of Sunderland and taking scrap from gardens and yards without permission.
Police have now launched an operation to catch the thieves who are pocketing cash by selling the scrap.
Officers in areas including Hendon, Grangetown and Ryhope are carrying out stops on vans to ensure they are licensed to legally collect scrap.
Operation Focus has been set up in response to issues raised by residents who have been victims of the dealers.
High-visibility patrols are being carried out in areas where there have been community concerns, and people selling property suspected to have been stolen from gardens or houses are being targeted.
Acting Neighbourhood Inspector Tom Connor said: “We will be checking the legitimacy of scrap metal vans operating in the east of the city, as well as the goods they’re carrying, and making sure their vehicles are roadworthy.
“Scrap metal dealers should be extra vigilant and ensure they’re complying with the law, as they can play an important part in stopping metal thefts by making it even more difficult for offenders to sell on their stolen goods.
“I’d also ask the public to continue to provide information on any suspicious activity or vehicles which seem out of place.”
Residents are being asked to follow crime prevention advice and not leave items unattended in their garden which may be considered as scrap.
Insp Connor added: “It’s worth remembering, genuine collectors will ask the householders’ permission to take any scrap metal.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, ext. 69191.