Tornado brings the wind of change to metal thieves
By Wells_Jaqui | Monday, June 25, 2012, 17:28
New measures to combat metal theft have being rolled out across the region today Monday, 25th June.
Estimated to cost the UK approximately £1billion a year, metal theft is increasing nationally due to the global rise in metal prices, resulting in, inconvenience and expense to thousands of people and in some cases causing risk to life. All affected industries are working together with the police to tackle the problem at a national level.
In the South West, the operation will see cross-border collaboration with Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Constabularies working together to target metal thieves.
Scrap metal yards across the region have been asked to sign up to the scheme over the last six weeks. From the 25th of June, anyone going to a yard to sell metal will be asked for evidence of identity in the form of a passport, national identity card or photo driving licence, supported by proof of address such as a recent utility bill.
Superintendent Mark Saunders, from Avon and Somerset Police, who is the South West's regional lead tackling metal theft, said: "Tornado is already in operation in other parts of the country having been trialed successfully earlier in the year in Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland.
"These three police areas have seen a significant drop, approximately 60% with Durham achieving a 74% reduction, in the levels of opportunist metal theft, without seeing a rise in other opportunistic crime types, which is extremely positive.
"We have been successfully working with scrap dealers for a number of years with an aim to decreasing the market in which thieves can operate both as a force and as a region and this is a natural progression. Because this is a national scheme, thieves are going to find it difficult to dispose of their stolen goods wherever they go. By working in this way – we will avoid merely displacing the crime."
Steve King from R.J.King & Sons LTD in Farrington Gurney said: "Our industry will go through some changes over the next couple of months and adjustments will need to be made, but I believe schemes like Operation Tornado benefits and protects the industry.
"By signing up to schemes such as this and working with the police, we are less likely to end up with stolen materials on our sites; our public image improves and hopefully will give our industry and public customers more confidence in the way that we trade. At R.J. King we have always worked closely with our local police force and once Operation Tornado covers the whole country it will create a level and stable playing field for all."
Superintendent Saunders continued: "The industry has responded very positively to Operation Tornado and the majority have already signed up to the scheme. It has not been designed to inhibit legitimate dealers but to target those who actively and knowingly trade in stolen material. We will continue to work with the yards to ensure that the service level agreements are adhered to.
"However, should it prove necessary, we will use all the appropriate powers available to us to investigate and deal with businesses that we suspect are dealing in stolen metal, and will continue to take an intrusive approach in dealing with the thieves and handlers who make money at a cost to each and every tax payer. This operation is one of a range of ongoing overt and covert tactics to prevent and detect metal theft and other related crime."
Police are reminding anyone taking metal to yards to sell to ensure they take the necessary documents and proof of I.D. to avoid being turned away and are encouraging the public to alert their local police if they are not asked to provide appropriate identification.
Officers across the region are also working with dealers to gather intelligence, and encourage the reporting of suspected thieves.
If you have information about illegal activities in your area, you can either contact your local policing team by calling 101.
Alternatively you can call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org they never ask for your name or trace your call.