Published: December 10, 2012
New police team set up to tackle metal theft in Burnham area

A new police team has been formed to tackle metal theft across West Somerset, including the Burnham-On-Sea area.

The team, which comprises four Special Constables and a volunteer, will work alongside the constabulary's existing anti metal theft team.

Estimated to cost the UK approximately £1billion a year, metal theft has been increasing nationally due to the global rise in metal prices resulting in inconvenience and expense to thousands of people and in some cases causing risk to life.

Several churches in Burnham and the surrounding areas have been suffered from led theives removing the material from their rooves in recent years.

The new team of specials and volunteers will assist with the coordination and visits to scrap metal dealers in the Somerset West area as part of 'Operation Tornado'.

The initiative was launched in June and aims to deter both would-be thieves and handlers by asking scrap metal yards to ensure anyone selling them metal provides photo I.D. supported by a utility bill.

These measures make it easier to trace people, constricting the market in which thieves can operate and making it more difficult to sell-on stolen goods.

Inspector Tim Powell-Gill, who is leading the new team in Somerset West, said: "This is only one of many examples of the support to the regular officers and local communities given by the Special Constabulary in their own time. In 2011 over 26,000 hours were put in by specials in the Somerset West area supporting front-line officers."

The launch of the new team coincides with changes in legislation that came in to effect this week. Changes have been made to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act, which has now outlawed cash transactions at metal recycling yards across England and Wales.

Detective Superintendent Mark Saunders, from Avon and Somerset Police, who is the South West's regional lead tackling metal theft, said: "Since we launched the regional Metal Theft Coordination Team in the South West six months ago, we have seen almost a 50% reduction in metal thefts in the Avon and Somerset area. This is extremely encouraging but we won't be complacent."

If you have information about illegal metal thefts in the Burnham area, contact the local policing team by dialling 101.


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