A POLICE crackdown on rogue scrap metal dealers has led to 48 vehicles being stopped and checked within 10 days.
Officers in South Tyneside have mounted an operation targeting thieves who take what they see as scrap from people’s gardens without permission.
The figures come as new legislation to outlaw all cash transactions at metal recycling yards across England and Wales is set to be introduced.
The revision is the first significant change of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act since 1964.
The news has been welcomed by Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton as police in South Tyneside continue the crackdown.
He said: “Anything that makes it harder for thieves to dispose of stolen metal has to be welcomed. We are continuing to target offenders, and to date we have stopped and checked 48 vehicles to ensure those operating as scrap collectors have the correct licence and are complying with regulations.”
The operation was sparked after complaints from residents who felt their privacy was being invaded by scrap merchants snooping in gardens.
Yesterday, on National Metal Theft Day of Action, figures revealed cable theft from train tracks across the North East has fallen by 66 per cent, from 512 to 180 offences.
Over the years, thieves have risked electrocution and caused hundreds of hours of disruption to commuters by stealing cable from tracks in a bid to cash in on the metal market.
Detective Inspector Stuart Mellish, from the British Transport Police, said: “The reductions seen in the past six months have been remarkable.
“Clearly initiatives such as Operation Tornado, in conjunction with better education for scrap dealers and improved joint-working with industry (including sharing of best practice and intelligence), are having an effect.
“The significant reductions mean that fewer people are having their rail journeys disrupted as a result of cable theft, and thieves are having less impact on the lives of communities.
“But there is no room for complacency and there is still much to be done.”