Published: March 14, 2013
Police step up their battle against metal crime across Somerset

Arrests have been made and property seized as police in Somerset and across the South West continued their clamp down on metal thefts.

Officers across the region have been carrying out stop checks on commercial vehicles and vans in an effort to identify stolen metal and disrupt possible criminal activity.

Several vehicles have been seized and others issued with Fixed Penalty Notices and prohibitions.

Long called for by police to further help in the fight against metal theft, changes were made to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act in December 2012, which outlawed cash transactions at metal recycling yards across England and Wales.

Operation Tornado was introduced in June of last year and requires scrap metal yards to ask anyone selling metal to provide I.D supported by a utility bill to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal.

These measures, along with the proactive and intrusive approach the region has taken since setting up a designated regional team, has meant that the South West has seen a 50% reduction in metal theft over the past 10 months. The picture is also positive nationwide with the UK seeing a 47.3% reduction over the last year.

Superintendent Mark Saunders, from Avon and Somerset Police, who is the South West's regional lead in tackling metal theft, said: "Operation Tornado and the recent legislation changes have really constricted the market for thieves, particularly the more opportunist thief, making it more difficult for them to sell on stolen metal and easier for us to trace. The majority of scrap yards are legitimate and compliant businesses who are working closely with us."

Police in the South West are reminding anyone taking metal to yards to sell to ensure they take the necessary documents and proof of I.D. to avoid being turned away and are encouraging the public to alert their local police if they are not asked to provide appropriate identification or are offered cash payment.

If you have information about illegal activities in your area, you can either contact your local policing team by calling 101.


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