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Operation Boat targets scrap metal thieves cashing in on crime

John Freeman
Police in Lancaster and Morecambe have launched Operation Boat to target criminals cashing in on crime at scrap metal dealers.
As prices of scrap metal rises, the temptation increases for thieve to steal metal, including valuable lead from the roofs of churches and schools.

As part of the operation, which will continue throughout the year, officers carried out checks on the White Lund estate recently to ensure that scrap metal yards were complying with their current legal obligations. Working with staff from VOSA, the Environmental Agency , Trading Standards and other agencies, police checked any scrap metal being taken on and off the site in order to determine its origin.

A total of 30 vehicles were checked for stolen metal. While no metal thefts were detected, one person was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis and VOSA issued five notices to vehicles with defects.

Officers also addressed any motoring offences being committed, issued warnings to seven owners of vehicles being advertised for sale on the road and carried out checks for stolen bicycles, following a recent spate of thefts.

“Metal theft is a problem across the county as the price of scrap rises," explains Inspector Dave Vickers of Morecambe police. "Thieves will go to extraordinary lengths to get it, often climbing onto high and dangerous buildings, ledges and roofs to steal metal – usually lead.

“Usually the first the victim knows about it is when it starts to rain and they get a leak, so they not only face the financial cost of replacing the metal but also repairing the damage.

 “Anyone found in possession of stolen scrap metal can expect to be arrested and detained whilst we make further enquires into the origins of the metal.”

Operation Boat also encompasses police action against organised criminal groups targeting commercial warehouses and industrial premises in the Morecambe and Lancaster area.  Officers working with local business watch groups, including White Lund Business Watch, will be carrying out regular operations to combat commercial burglaries.

A recent spate of commercial burglaries have occurred in the White Lund and Heysham area," notes Inspector Vickers. "We're requesting the assistance and support  of the local communities, including business communities, to immediately report any suspicious activity or vehicles, in particular late at night.

“We are also asking local business people to make regular checks of their premises, including their  alarm systems and by making weekend visits.

“Any suspicious activity, including an activation of an alarm, should be immediately reported to the police.  At the same time local officers will continue to target these areas at all times of day and night.”  

• Anyone with information about scrap metal thefts should contact police on 0845 1 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.