Police have raided 10 scrap metal dealers, seized £100,000 of cash and stolen metal and made 28 arrests during a massive crackdown on metal thieves in West Yorkshire.
Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd said he was delighted with how the operation had gone.
“Nationally metal theft has become a big issue with thieves going after large scale targets such as the transport infrastructure and small scale items such as plaques marking the passing away of a loved one.
“But the human impact on victims remains the same and our action over the last three days sends out a loud and clear message that West Yorkshire Police will not tolerate metal theft.
“The number of instances of metal theft in West Yorkshire are falling – but there is still a lot of work to be done and this operation sends out a loud and clear message that we mean business.”
Mr Dodd was also keen to stress that the vast majority of scrap metal dealers operate legitimate businesses.
“During this operation we have raided 10 dealers, but there are many, many more scrap metal dealers in West Yorkshire.
“The majority of them work with us to help stop the movement of stolen metal.
“We have been working closely with representatives of the trade, as well as neighbouring forces and regional partners in government and industry to better regulate this area.”
The operation has also involved assistance from other agencies. Simon Davies, BT Security’s general manager responsible for dealing with cable theft, said:
Of the 28 people arrested, eight have been released on police bail and eight have been charged with handling stolen metal. The rest remain in police custody.
Assistant Chief Constable Dodd stressed that this was not the end of work to tackle metal theft.
“I am very pleased with how the last three days have gone but this is certainly not the end of our work to target metal theft,” he said.
“The answer lies within the communities which we serve and we need people to work with us – whether that’s legitimate scrap metal dealers passing on information about people within their trade acting illegally or members of the public spotting something that doesn’t look right and letting us know about it.
“It could be something as simple as seeing people acting suspiciously around a vehicle and then making a note of the registration plate.
“Information like that could be the final piece in the jigsaw and enable officers to make arrests. If residents give us the information we will take action.”
If you have any information please call police via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.