NEARLY 40 people were arrested and £30,000 worth of stolen property seized during a week-long crackdown on metal thefts in South Yorkshire, final figures reveal.
The covert operation, carried out at scrapyards in and around Rotherham, was staged by South Yorkshire Police, the British Transport Police and the Environment Agency.
Vehicles carrying scrap and household waste were also stopped and checked.
Sites suspected of storing metal or dismantling vehicles without environmental permits were also targeted.
The operation was mounted following an increase in metal thefts because of the rising value of scrap metal.
Police today revealed the final number of arrests was 38.
Sgt Dave Baines said: “These thieves not only risk hurting themselves by targeting active gas pipes or stealing electrical cables, their actions can often place members of the public in danger, or create substantial disruption for those affected by the damaged property.
“The operation focused on offenders who commit this crime and to test whether there are rogue scrap dealers receiving what is obviously stolen metal and, in effect, encouraging offenders to commit this illegal activity.”
Det Chf Insp Craig Robinson said: “We acknowledge there is a great deal of legitimate scrap metal activity taking place daily across Rotherham.
“We want to ensure these scrapyards and merchants can continue to trade legally without having their businesses blighted or their reputation damaged by the less than reputable dealers who turn a blind eye to the stolen property coming through their yards.”