THe pre-Christmas blitz on metal thieves and rogue scrap dealers has resulted in more than 50 people being arrested across northern England.
Yesterday a warehouse on a Doncaster industrial estate was the location for South Yorkshire Police to show some of their haul from the operation, dubbed Coast to Coast Tornado.
In the first operation of its kind, nine police forces from Cumbria in the west to Humberside in the east, along with British Transport Police, concentrated resources for a week on scrapyards and some of their customers.
Police say it resulted in 57 significant arrests, the recovery of £115,000 worth of suspected stolen goods, and the seizure of 76 vehicles. One of them was a van belonging to a Doncaster scrap dealer which contained drums of new cable stolen in a commercial burglary in the borough.
About 200 officers also visited 215 scrapyards and stopped 3,500 vehicles, to coincide with new legislation which came in last week to make all scrapyard transactions ‘cashless’.
A bonus was the recovery of £40,000 worth of amphetamines after police tried to stop a vehicle in Doncaster. The driver made off, discarding two packages which were seized. He was later arrested at his home in north Lincolnshire.
The police officer in charge, Supt Tim Innes, said the combined operation had made a wider impact. The vast majority of scrap dealers had been co-operative and a significant amount of copper cable, beer kegs and gas bottles had been recovered.
“It demonstrates that metal is still a lucrative commodity and we hope this operation and the new legislation has curbed the illegal trade,” he said.
Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, Shaun Wright, said: “I welcome force collaboration in tackling this matter and it sends a clear message from those involved in this operation that we will not stand by and let communities be affected in this way.”