Gallery & video: Three arrested as police swoop on scrap metal yards in Wisbech

TWO men and a woman were arrested after police raided two scrap metal yards in Wisbech early this morning.

Around 100 officers, including some from Norfolk and Suffolk, were involved in the operation at 7am which was the culmination of an 18-month inquiry.

The men, aged 57 and 62, and the 50-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of attempting to handle stolen goods and have been taken to Bridge Street Police Station in Peterborough. Detailed searches of both premises are now being carried out by specially trained officers.

Cambridgeshire’s Deputy Chief constable John Feavyour said afterwards: “It is what I expected and what I wanted to happen. Today is the culmination of a painstaking, 18-month inquiry that demonstrates our commitment to tackling metal theft and associated crime.

“Our aim is to disrupt and shut down the market that is fuelling this type of offending, which is not victimless and can be very disruptive to members of the public, businesses and organisations.

“There is a lot of metal out there to get stolen but the incentive to steal it is only there if there is a market for it. I want to make a real dent in the market for stolen goods.

“This is not a fishing expedition, this morning’s operation has been based on intelligence collected by officers over the last 18 months. Today has been about a slow, methodical search and that is why we have needed the number of officers, it wasn’t about busting our way through the door.”

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Mr Feavyour described how officers had spent 18 months piecing together a picture of illegal practices involving the scrap metal market. He said: “It may seem a victimless crime but it is not. You may be a member of a church and the lead is stolen off your roof. Perhaps you have spent four of five years raising money in your community to pay for that roof.”

Mr Feavyour said it was vital that the public continued to supply the police with information. He said: “I would also urge members of the public to help us by being our eyes and ears in the community. If anyone sees any suspicious behaviour near manholes or near buildings including schools and churches they should contact the police.”

He said the number of thefts fluctuates with changes the scrap metal market but lead is stolen from churches and community buildings, and copper and other metal from electricity substations, potentially affecting power supplies.

Police were joined today by staff from partner agencies including EDF Energy, BT, HMRC and Fenland District Council.

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