New technology used to beat metal thieves

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NEW technology is being used by police in the fight against metal thieves in Cambridgeshire.

The British Telecom-developed RABit system (Rapid Assessment BT Incident Tracker) alerts the force control room when a live cable has been cut or damaged.

It also pinpoints the location so officers can be deployed quickly to the correct location. The system also alerts BT. The technology will help Operation Magnet, the force’s crackdown on metal theft that was launched in the spring.

The operation has seen officers working with partner agencies, including BT, to catch those responsible, deter offending and disrupt the stolen metal market.

They have also been asking dealers to sign up to Operation Tornado, a national Responsible Scrap Metal Dealer Scheme and, so far, 17 of 27 in the county have done so.

The scheme involves dealers committing themselves to making it easier for police to trace sellers of stolen metal but it will not inhibit those who operate legitimately. Officers have also extended the scheme to motor salvage operators who are already starting to sign up.

Detective Inspector Sharon Dence said: “This new technology could prove invaluable as it alerts us to a crime in progress and can give us a precise location.

“Cable is often stolen from vulnerable locations and can have a huge impact on people living nearby. This will give us an advantage and increase the likelihood of us catching thieves in the act.”

Officers have been carrying out regular checks to ensure scrap yards and the people using them are operating within the law.

DI Dence added: “We would appeal for people to be vigilant and report anything they think is suspicious or out of the ordinary, particularly at night in isolated locations and around manhole covers or telegraph poles.”

Anyone with information about metal theft should call police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111. If a crime is in progress, call 999.