The number of scrap metal thefts has fallen in Lancashire.
New figures revealed there were 2018 recorded metal theft crimes in the county between October 2011 and October 2012 - valued at more than £1.25m in total.
This was a 28 per cent decrease compared to the period between October 2010 and October 2011, when there were 2,808 reported metal thefts.
Lancashire Police were involved in a wider crackdown on metal theft across the North of England in December, Operation Coast to Coast, which saw officers visit scrap yards and carry out roadside stop-checks on vehicles believed to be transporting metal.
Chief Inspector Mike Adamson, who ran the operation for Lancashire Police, said: “The theft of metal costs individuals and businesses thousands of pounds each year – it is not a victimless crime and has a negative impact upon the communities in which we live.
“We will continue to pursue those believed to be involved in the theft of cable and scrap metal and bring them to justice.
“We also use property marking systems such as anti theft paint to make it easier for us to identify stolen metals and arrest responsible.”
Officers seized more than 380kg of BT cabling, which had a scrap value of £450, but would cost more than £10,000 to reinstate on the communication giant’s network.
As a result of the operation, more than £2,200 of copper piping was also discovered, which was believed to have been stolen from a house in Blackburn.
The operation coincided with new legislation, currently going through the House of Lords, which aims to make it easier for the police to shut down unlicensed scrap yards and ban cash transactions for scrap metal.
Chief Insp Adamson said: “As well as being an enforcement operation this was very much about building bridges with the scrap metal dealers and educating them on what they can and can’t do.
“The new legislation ensures that the identification of customers selling metal at scrap metal dealers is checked and recorded allowing the police to trace any stolen metal back to the thieves.
“We will be continuing to work with the scrap metal dealers to target thieves who seek to profit from metal theft.”
Last week a vehicle was seized in Deepdale, Preston, during a police crack down on scrap metal thefts.
Officers ran the operation following complaints from residents about people stealing scrap metal from yards and gardens.
Checks were made on vehicles carrying scrap metal and one man was arrested on suspicion of the theft of £6,000 of copper.
Anyone with any information about metal theft is asked to contact Lancashire Police on 101.
Alternatively call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111, or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
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