POLICE made 39 arrests, seized seven vehicles thought to be stolen and found £200,000 in cash during a series of raids at scrapyards across South Yorkshire.
The team of 400 officers swooped on 10 scrapyards across the county - three in Sheffield, five in Barnsley, one in Rotherham and one in Doncaster.
They mounted a series of co-ordinated strikes at the premises at 9am on Tuesday.
South Yorkshire Police said officers found material they believe to be stolen at nine out of the 10 scrapyards raided.
Rotherham Council has also revealed metal theft cost the town £170,000 to deal with last year - money spent on replacing stolen drain covers stolen by metal thieves and paying for extra security.
Community Protection officers from Rotherham Council were also involved in the police operation - the biggest ever mounted by South Yorkshire Police in the war against metal thieves and scrapyards which are fuelling the industry.
The council staff were looking for signs of the illegal disposal, transportation or movement of waste and fly-tipping, as well as the theft of metal from roads, council houses and buildings.
A Rotherham Council spokesman described the operation as a ‘significant day’ for the town.
He said: “We work very closely with a variety of partners on an on-going basis to try and put a stop to this kind of crime, which results in huge costs and disruptions to individuals and organisations such as ourselves.
“This operation took it to a new level and allowed us to take a very close look at one particular business - an excellent way of working with out partners to ensure that those who do not work with us to combat this disgraceful crime are brought to book.”