War waged against scrap metal thefts

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POLICE have waged a war on metal thefts in a bid to reduce the crime blighting schools, churches, homes and monuments.

Scrap dealers were raided as part of a police operation which saw 15 arrests made in Lancashire and 10 vehicles seized.

More than 82 scrap dealers were visited across the county, during which half a tonne of copper piping and overhead cable, worth £15,000, was seized and £6,000 worth of other suspected stolen goods were confiscated.

In Blackpool, police worked with council enforcement officers to carry out vehicle checks.

Sgt Paul McCurrie, from Blackpool Police, said: “Scrap metal thefts have affected homes and businesses as well as buildings like churches and schools in the Blackpool area, causing distress.

“It is our firm intention to reduce this type of crime by working with the council. We are determined to put offenders before the courts.”

The day of action was part of a north-west operation involving Lancashire Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Merseyside forces.

Blackpool officers handed out fines totalling £1,000 for offences such as failing to display the correct scrap metal carrier licence.

The Fylde coast has been plagued by metal thieves in recent years.

Earlier this year around £3,000 of copper piping was stolen from Anchorsholme Primary School, causing the roof to flood and leaving the school without running water for a day.

Police launched a campaign on metal thefts after the number of offences rose to 655 in May 2011.

Following a series of operations this figure has now dropped to 395 in May 2012, a reduction of 42 per cent.

Supt Craig Thompson, from police specialist operations, said: “We are delighted the majority of scrap metal yards visited today were found to be operating legally and not supporting metal thieves by taking in stolen goods.

“It shows the hard work put in by police officers across the region along with honest scrap dealers and partners from utility and transport networks is paying off and we are succeeding in putting metal thieves out of business.”