March 9 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Police have swooped on vans and scrapyards across west Suffolk as part of a day of operations cracking down on metal theft.
Officers were joined by colleagues from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) yesterday as they brought suspect vehicles to the lorry park in Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds for spot checks on their licences to deal with scrap metal, as well as carrying out routine vehicle checks by trained inspectors.
Simultaneously, a separate group of officers visiyed premises in Mildenhall to check their customers were all legitimate.
Sergeant Simon Hobson, who led the operation in Bury, said: “Scrap metal is a national problem. The issue of scrap metal has become more prevalent since it became more of a saleable asset, but there’s been lots of work to counter that.
“It’s a balance between education and enforcement. If you’re in the business of collecting scrap metal, you need to register with the local authority.”
The new scrap metal dealer licences only came into effect in October and require dealers to register with any local authority where they collect scrap.
Other measures include scrapyards no longer paying cash for metal and demanding dealers provide ID and their vehicle registration.
Sgt Hobson added: “We’ve all read in the papers about all the catalytic converters and overhead cables going missing.
“It’s the inconvenience it causes, which is unacceptable. If you’re trying to get a train into London and all the metal from the overhead power cables has been stolen, you’re not going to be very happy.”
PC David Logan was one the officers in four cars - three marked, one unmarked - trawling through Bury’s streets searching for suspicious vehicles and bringing them back to the lorry park.
During one such search, which resulted in PC Logan bringing in an unmarked work van, he said: “I think the problem has peaked.
“It’s going down again due to the price of scrap falling, and people are moving away from it, but there are still some people doing it to boost their income.
“No one here is under any impression other than to educate people that do scrap to get the correct certificates and don’t get caught out if they’re doing things legitimately.”