Police crack down on metal thefts in Wiltshire
METAL worth more than £6,000 was seized from a scrap yard in north Wiltshire last week, as part of a regional crackdown on metal thefts.
Police seized six aluminium sheets from Porter Metals at Christian Malford, during a week of raids.
The action was part of Operation Tornado which saw Wiltshire Police team up with other agencies including British Transport Police, local Government officers, the Environment Agency, HMRC, BT, Western Power and the Lead Sheet Association.
An investigation is now underway to trace the source of the metal seized from Christian Malford and no arrests were made.
Acting Detective Sergeant James Neighbour said the investigation is ongoing. "The aluminium was seized, but only on suspicion. At present, there is nothing to suggest that it was stolen," he said.
He added metal theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK. "There has been a steep increase in the value of metal, which has gone hand in hand with a national rise in the theft of this valuable commodity," he said.
This trend has been echoed in Wiltshire, where police have seen a 50 percent increase in reports of metal thefts in recent years. "This type of crime can have a devastating effect, not just on individuals but on communities as a whole," he said.
British Transport Police's Sgt Patrick Hall said thieves and handlers do not always understand the impact of their crimes. "They don’t get to see the victim, but there is always a school, church or war memorial seriously damaged by the theft," he said.
Volunteers and partner agencies lent their expertise to the operation by helping police to identify stolen metals. Officers from BT and Western Power were looking for their own materials, although none came to light at Porter Metals.
Officers also looked for common items such as stolen shopping trolleys, milk cages, lead flashing and copper wire.
Jack Knight of the Environment Agency said targeting scrap metal dealers was the best way to combat metals thefts.
"By cleaning up the yards themselves, we make it very difficult for thieves to operate," he said. The raids will continue across the country in the coming months.
Anyone with information on metal thefts should contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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