Crime-busting scheme targeting metal theft launched in Cambridgeshire

SEVEN arrests have been made relating to scrap metal theft as part of a new crime-busting scheme launched by Cambridgeshire Police.

The Responsible Scrap Metal Dealer Scheme seeks to crackdown on metal theft and involves dealers committing themselves to making it easier for the police to trace sellers of stolen metal.

Part of Operation Magnet, it is said not to inhibit those operating legitimately.

Dealers have already started signing up to the scheme while officers and partner agencies - including local authorities, BT Openreach and HMRC - have been carrying out enforcement action.

Seven arrests have been made for offences including burglary and theft; eight vehicles have been seized and penalty notices have been handed out for offences including having no insurance.

Local authorities within Cambridgeshire have also handed out 14 fines for failing to have a trade waste carriers licence.

Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Vanterpool, who is heading-up Operation Magnet, said: “Metal theft directly affects members of the public and businesses who suffer through loss of utilities, services and property. It is a crime that affects the whole country and is heavily influenced by the growing economies of developed and developing countries.

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“Our action this week is a clear demonstration that metal theft will not be tolerated in Cambridgeshire but in order to clamp down on offenders we also need the help and support of the law-abiding majority of metal recyclers.

“It is clear that a large proportion of stolen metal finds its way into the recycling industry through dealers who openly accept or turn a blind eye to stolen material.”

Under the scheme the police will visit scrap metal dealers on a regular basis to keep them informed of crime trends.

DCI Vanterpool added: “Metal theft is not a victimless crime and can affect us all, directly or indirectly.

“We would appeal to the public to report any suspicious behaviour, particularly at vulnerable locations such as churches and community centres, or near manhole covers beside roads. It may not be clear that a crime is being committed but we would rather receive a call about activity that turns out to be innocuous than not receive a call at all.”

Anyone with information about metal theft should call police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111, or if a crime is in progress, 999.