Police operation “takes step” towards combating metal thieves

THIRTY vehicles were stopped and checked during a multi-agency crackdown on metal thieves.

Operation Tactful at Barton Mills, near Mildenhall, on Wednesday between 11am and 5pm involved officers from Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire Police.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology was used by police officers as part of a regional response to the rise in metal theft.

Officers stopped suspicious vehicles on the A11 and surrounding roads and, with partner agencies, then carried out checks on the vehicles and their occupants.

One person - a 53-year-old man from the Beccles area - was arrested on suspicion of stealing cabling, and other arrests were made, including of a 42-year-old man on suspicion of handling and receiving stolen goods.

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The 53-year-old has been released on police bail to return to Bury St Edmunds Police Station on August 20.

Also, a number of vehicles were seized - four for having no insurance - a stolen motorbike was recovered, and fixed penalty notices were issued for no insurance, faulty lights, tyres and trailers.

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Thirty-four prohibition notices were issued and 71 advisory notices given out. Suffolk Trading Standards requested further information from 24 people and there was one waste licence offence dealt with by the Environment Agency.

Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Pepper said the operation had taken a step towards combating metal thefts.

She added how criminals using the roads were often committing a number of crimes.

“There is a worldwide shortage of metal, especially aluminium, copper and lead, which means prices for scrap are high and metal theft is more attractive for criminals.

“Each force in the Eastern region has seen a significant increase in theft of metal with around 150 offences of metal theft reported in west Suffolk since April 1.

“For the UK as a whole it’s estimated to cost businesses around �770million each year.”

Incidents include thefts from churches, schools, residential homes and businesses, with items taken including lead roofing, catalytic converters, electricity and telephone cabling.

The operation, which was part of a national day of action against metal theft, also included checks at scrap metal yards.

Anyone with any information about metal theft should contact Suffolk Police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Speak to your local crime reduction officer for advice on protecting your property and contact your local community watch liaison officer on 01473 613500 for details on local Watch schemes.

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