arrests as police target metal thefts across Somerset
Criminals in the Burnham-On-Sea area who steal or handle stolen
metal have been the target of police this week during a major
operation to clamp down on the crime.
25 people have been arrested by police across the Somerset
and Avon force area on Monday when police officers simultaneously
entered and searched 50 scrap metal dealerships across the region.
Property suspected to have been stolen was seized including BT
cable, copper pipes, transformers, manhole covers, metal gates
and scaffolding towers.
The day of action came during the constabulary's ongoing 'Operation
Relentless' campaign, which is aimed at targeting criminals who
deal in stolen metal, handle stolen goods and the thieves that
Metal theft is increasing due to the global rise in metal prices.
Currently, a ton of copper is worth over £5,000 and lead
approximately £2,000, making metal a very attractive commodity
to both opportunist thieves and organised crime groups.
Metal theft affects people at all levels from national companies
and businesses, to local authorities, places of worship, community
buildings and private homes - as has been seen in the Burnham-On-Sea
in recent years.
St Andrew's Church in Burnham and St Mary's Church in Berrow
have both been attacked - leaving thousands of pounds of damage
to their roofs after strips of lead were stolen.
Ray Hulin, the force lead on metal theft, who is leading this
week's operation, said: "Any legitimate scrap dealers we
have visited today, who actively refuse to deal with stolen metal
and who engage with local policing teams, have nothing to fear."
"We hope that our action today reassures the public of the
importance that the Constabulary places upon the theft of metal."
"We will continue to use an intrusive approach in dealing
with the thieves and handlers who are making a lot of money at
the cost and inconvenience of everyone else. Every tax payer has
to pick up the bill for this criminality in some form or another."
"It isn't just a financial impact that metal theft has on
communities and individuals it can also put people's lives
at risk. Recently a BT cable was cut in Somerset resulting in
the loss of phone and internet services to over 4000 homes and
businesses; it also knocked out the Coastguard's emergency communications
capability for 12 hours."
"I would urge people to contact police if you are approached
by anyone in relation to scrap metal."