Metal thieves arrested
By Wells_Jaqui | Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 09:21
At 11:00 on Monday September 12, over 300 officers from Avon and Somerset Police simultaneously entered and searched 50 scrap metal dealerships across the force area.
Police target metal thieves
They have so far made 25 arrests across Bath, Bristol, Wells and rural parts of Somerset and South Gloucestershire for handling stolen goods, money laundering and theft..
The day of action comes as part of the Constabulary's ongoing "Operation Relentless" campaign, and is aimed at targeting criminals who deal in stolen metal, handle stolen goods and the thieves that steal it.
Metal theft is increasing nationally due to the global rise in metal prices. Currently a ton of copper is worth over £5000 and lead approximately £2,000, making metal a very attractive commodity to both opportunist thieves and organised crime groups.
Metal theft affects people at all levels from national companies and businesses, to local authorities, places of worship, community buildings and private homes. It is estimated to cost the UK over £1 billion pounds a year.
Fortunately in the Avon and Somerset force area figures indicate that the number of metal thefts are considerably lower than most other areas across the UK.
The Constabulary has been running proactive operations across the force to tackle metal theft as well as working with scrap dealers to decrease the market in which thieves can operate.
Inspector Ray Hulin, the force lead on metal theft, who is leading today's operation said: "Any legitimate scrap dealers we have visited today, who actively refuse to deal with stolen metal and who engage with local policing teams, have nothing to fear.
"We hope that our action today reassures the public of the importance that the Constabulary places upon the theft of metal.
"We will continue to use an intrusive approach in dealing with the thieves and handlers who are making a lot of money at the cost and inconvenience of everyone else. Every tax payer has to pick up the bill for this criminality in some form or another.
"It isn't just a financial impact that metal theft has on communities and individuals – it can also put people's lives at risk. Recently a BT cable was cut in Somerset resulting in the loss of phone and internet services to over 4000 homes and businesses; it also knocked out the Coastguard's emergency communications capability for 12 hours.
"I would urge people to contact police if you are approached by anyone in relation to scrap metal."
Support groups, sniffer dogs, financial investigators and officers from Police Headquarters are assisting district officers in today's searches, which will continue throughout the day. Officers from British Transport Police and BT's investigation team are also supporting the operation.
For ways to protect your propert, please see the comprehensive list the police have put together here.
If you would like further advice regarding protecting your home or business, please contact your local Safer, Stronger Neighbourhood Team 0845456 7000.
If you have information about illegal activities in your area, you can either contact your local policing team by calling 0845 4567000 or you can report crime on-line by logging on to www.avonandsomerset.police.uk and clicking on the "Contact Us" tab.