THOUSANDS of pounds worth of metal has been recovered from scrap merchants across Derbyshire this week as part of an ongoing operation to target metal thefts.
Operation Calanthia was launched in September to tackle the growing problem of theft of metal such as copper, lead, iron and steel.
Uniformed and plain-clothed officers were joined by staff from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Environment Agency, licensing departments, Western Power, British Telecom and VOSA. Other agencies checked cabling, carried out safety audits and vehicle inspections and made sure the merchants were adhering to their licenses.
Anyone seen bringing metal to the yards were stopped, had their details checked and the metal examined.
Special torches were used to scan metal for Smartwater and officers examined merchant’s log books to make sure staff are recording the details of people who bring in items to sell.
Officers found new scaffolding at a scrap yard in Ilkeston, along with more than £1,000 worth of cabling, and are investigating its origin.
A large amount of cabling was found at yards in Derby and Long Eaton, which officers suspect had been cashed in by thieves and they are trying to trace the owners.
Police believe that metal taken from a farm in Leicestershire had been scrapped at a yard in south Derbyshire and police are working to trace the suspect.
Nothing suspicious was discovered when teams visited yards in the Chesterfield, Buxton, Glossop and Derbyshire Dales areas.
In the High Peak, officers set up vehicle checks in conjunction with partner agencies to stop and search any vehicles transporting metal. In Glossop, 39 light goods vehicles were stopped and five were found not to have the correct waste carrier licence. They were dealt with by the Environment Agency.
Police stopped 31 vehicles in Darley Dale and Baslow. Eight drivers were given prohibition notices for serious vehicle defaults.
All churches in the Hope Valley were visited and given crime prevention advice following recent thefts.
Police have continued to make arrests this week and are urging people to report suspicious activity. At 2.45pm on Tuesday, October 18, police received a report that a unit in Great Northern Road, Derby, had been broken into. When officers arrived, they found a car full of metal. A 37-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of theft and later released on bail pending further inquiries.
Superintendent Debbie Mathews, of the force’s Operational Support department, is leading the initiative. She said: “Metal thefts is an increasing problem which can’t be tackled effectively unless we work closely with scrap merchants.
“Our checks revealed that many merchants are questioning people who bring metal in to scrap and they are keeping good customer records.
“However, we have recovered metal this week that has given us cause for concern and we have spoken to certain dealers to remind them of the need to carry out careful checks when items such as cabling or lead flashing is brought in.
“We have also gathered very useful intelligence this week around how scrap thieves operate, which will ultimately lead to further arrests and help us plan future operations.”