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Police Show Their Mettle

Twenty People Arrested In Stolen Scrap Metal Sweep

Written by . Published on May 23rd 2013.

Police Show Their Mettle

TWENTY people have been arrested following the latest phase of an operation to tackle the sale of stolen metal in Greater Manchester. 

On Wednesday 22 May, Greater Manchester Police and British Transport Police executed a number of warrants at scrap metal dealers across the area as part of an intelligence-led Operation Alloy day of action. 

"The human cost of what these rogue dealers are doing should not be underestimated."

Raids were executed at scrapyards in Rochdale, Bury, north Manchester, Oldham, Bolton and Salford. Those arrested remain in police custody for questioning. 

The initiative also saw officers search the home addresses of those arrested as well as a number of partner agencies assisting in the search of recycling yards and the recovery of potentially stolen metal. 

Superintendent Craig Thompson, who leads Greater Manchester Police's Operation Alloy team, said: "Since Operation Alloy was launched more than two years ago, we have made huge inroads into tackling metal theft.

"However, despite a sharp drop in incidents of metal theft, we know there is still a culture that exists among thieves who believe they can off-load stolen metal onto scrapyards. 

"Any scrapyard dealer who knowingly accepts stolen goods or pays cash for metal is propagating this cycle of criminality, creating a market for thieves to prosper, and that is exactly why we have taken this action today. If a burglar knows he can sell stolen metal to a rogue dealer, it will entice them into committing offences that can cause real hardship to businesses and victims. 

"For example, if a pensioner had their boiler stolen in winter, they would be unable to heat their home which could put their life in danger. We also know of businesses that have been forced to shell out hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for repairs as a direct result of metal thieves. The knock-on effect of that is to put people's jobs on the line as businesses struggle to fund those repairs, so the human cost of what these rogue dealers are doing should not be underestimated. 

"It is important to stress that of the 70 scrapyards across Greater Manchester, the vast majority have worked hand-in-hand with police and are fully compliant with all the legislation. They have helped us to create a hostile environment that has made it very difficult for thieves to off-load stolen metal. 

"What today is all about, is targeting those rogue dealers who are suspected of lining their own pockets and making huge swathes of cash by knowingly selling stolen metal. In terms of officer numbers and the sheer scale of the investigation, this is the biggest operation ourselves and British Transport Police have run which shows our determination to tackling metal theft." 

When Operation Alloy was originally launched in August 2011, the region was recording up to 900 incidents of metal theft per month, a number which has now been reduced to about 200 per month. 

Chief Superintendent Pete Mason, British Transport Police's North West Area Commander, said: "Today's warrants are the culmination of a year-long joint investigation into the trade in stolen metal across Greater Manchester.

"Metal theft is a serious issue which has a major impact on the lives of those living and working in Greater Manchester.

"Whether thieves target railway cable, power lines, electrical substations or lead from homes or business, the impact felt by communities is marked and causes not only disruption but also financial loss and potential risk of harm.

Stolen Cables Can Cause ChaosStolen Cables Can Cause Chaos

"Thankfully, during the past 12 months, there have been significant reductions in the number of thefts recorded - due, in part, to legislative change which has gone hand in hand with enforcement activity under Operation Alloy." 

Chief Superintendent Mason added: "Unfortunately, despite this recent success, the issue has not gone away and some scrap metal recyclers are keeping the market for stolen metal alive by continuing to flout the law and purchase metal with a 'no questions asked' attitude.

"This has to stop and Greater Manchester Police and British Transport Police, together with partner agencies across the region, will continue to work together to take action against both thieves and unscrupulous scrap metal dealers." 

Steve Cox, future network manager for Electricity North West, the company which owns and maintains the regional power network, said: "We have been working closely with Greater Manchester Police and British Transport Police and today's successful day of action highlights our commitment to crack down on this very serious crime.

"Metal theft not only affects us, your network operator, but also communities and residents, who could be left without power in their homes.

"These thieves, who are breaking into our substations or stealing from our overhead lines, are putting themselves and others in great danger and it causes thousands of pounds worth of damage.

"We are investing a lot of money and resources into putting a stop to metal theft in our region once and for all, but we would still urge people to get in touch if they hear or see anything suspicious."

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