Police step up war on Wearside metal thieves

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EIGHT people have been arrested and three vehicles seized as part of a police operation against metal thieves.

Operation Attest saw officers across Wearside targeting thieves attempting to sell stolen metal to scrapyards.

A total of 20 vehicles and individuals were stopped and searched as part of the 24-hour blitz. A quantity of suspected stolen metal was recovered.

Two men, aged 25 and 20, were arrested in the early hours of Friday on suspicion of theft when police stopped a vehicle outside a scrapyard in Pallion. The vehicle and a quantity of metal was seized.

Two men, aged 25 and 19, were arrested in Southwick on suspicion of stealing metal and a 39-year-old man, also from Southwick, was picked up on suspicion of burglary.

A 26-year-old man was also arrested in Hendon on suspicion of driving offences. A further two men were arrested on suspicion of metal thefts.

Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Barrett, said: “The rise in the value of metal has made it appealing to thieves as they think it is easy to sell.

“However, by working with scrap dealers, we are making it even more difficult for them.

“Throughout the day we were working with other agencies across Sunderland, Houghton and Washington, to identify people who are believed to be trying to sell metal that could’ve been stolen.

“So far eight people have been arrested and three vehicles suspected of being used to transport stolen items seized.

“Anyone suspected of being involved in stealing metal should be warned that we will continue to target them and they not only face being arrested but, if they are using a vehicle to transport the stolen goods, we will seize the vehicle.”

Northern Gas Networks has joined the fight after thieves risked their lives to steal a few pounds’ worth of copper from three Leechmere homes.

The reckless thugs ripped out just a few metres of copper pipe, worth little, causing potentially lethal gas leaks.

Northern Gas Network engineers were called out to the homes on Sunday and Monday and capped off the gas supplies.

Northern Gas Networks John O’Grady said: “This act of vandalism was not only foolish but potentially extremely dangerous. Tampering with gas pipes and equipment poses a real danger and the sad thing is the small amount of copper they removed won’t be worth much at all.

“It is quite rare that this happens as most people are aware of just how dangerous it is to wilfully damage a gas pipe.

“Fortunately this incident ended without major incident, but we understand that it has caused a great deal of concern on the estate and brought unnecessary stress and worry to people.”

l Residents turning metal detectors – Page 14