Metal theft crackdown

POLICE in Cambridgeshire are visiting scrap yards today (October 28) as part of a nationwide day of action on metal theft. Officers from Operation Gandalf – the force’s crackdown on rural crime including metal theft – are visiting sites with colleagues from the British Transport Police.

It is part of a country-wide day of activity to tackle the crime, which affects thousands of people and includes theft of lead from roofs, underground cable and catalytic converters.

Four of the sites are in the Huntingdon area and one in the Ely area.

The day of action is being coordinated by ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers).

Detective Inspector Donna Wass, who is heading Op Gandalf, said: “We are working closely with scrap metal yards to ensure that thieves do not have an easy way to dispose of stolen metal.

“We will give guidance on the methods used by thieves and show them what stolen metal could look like.

“We are committed to catching those responsible for thefts and also disrupting the market that is driving the crime.”

DI Wass said the force was also involved in national discussions and supporting calls for stricter controls and legislative changes that will make life harder for thieves and those handling stolen goods.

Cambridgeshire officers are sharing tactics and intelligence with local forces including Essex, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Kent.

Op Gandalf was launched earlier this month to tackle rural crime in the county.

As well as metal theft, it will also target theft of diesel, heating oil, farm and plant machinery, tractors, trailers, horseboxes and batteries, and stack fire arsons.

The Op Gandalf team is working with colleagues in the force’s Rural Community Action Team (RCAT), Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) team, and officers from HM Revenue and Customs and BT Openreach.

Police are urging anyone who sees suspicious behaviour around vulnerable locations, such as churches, building sites or manhole covers, to contact them.

Anyone with information should contact police on 0345 456 456 4, or, if there is a crime in progress, 999.