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Operation Crucible sees forces unite to crack down on metal theft



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More than 100 scrap metal dealers were visited last month, as part of an operation to crack down on metal thieves.

Between 20 and 30 November, 10 forces across England and Wales – including BTP - joined together with partners to carry out coordinated enforcement action.

It was the second phase of Operation Crucible, which was initially run in September last year, and saw them visit more than 100 scrap metal dealers.

Most dealers visited were running their businesses legally, but a number were found still dealing in cash, mismanaging their records or failing to comply with the law.  

Officers in Suffolk found suspected stolen lead from a church and three arrests were made in North Yorkshire in connection with lead being stolen from a church roof.

Five drivers were also reported for road traffic offences, a number of vehicles were seized and action is being taken against a number of dealers who were found to be accepting cash for scrap metal.

British Transport Police Detective Inspector Darren Gough said: “Thankfully in recent years, we have seen the theft of metal largely declining across the UK, and the vast majority of scrap metal dealers operate law-abiding businesses.

“However, there is still a small minority who continue to flout the law – people who steal metal from the railways, from buildings and historic sites, and then sell it on for cash. We are determined to ensure the payment or taking of cash in exchange for scrap metal stops. It is illegal and we will continue to work with partners to ensure we target and punish those who do not follow the law.

“You might think it is a victimless crime but it’s not. It hurts communities, it brings the transport network to a halt and we will do everything in our power to stop this offending.”

Welcoming the development of Operation Crucible, Mark Harrison, Head of Heritage Crime and Policing Advice for Historic England, said:

“The value of England’s heritage cannot be judged in pounds and pence. The impact of metal theft on our historic sites and buildings has far-reaching consequences over and above the financial cost of what has been stolen.”

“When thieves steal metal from protected sites and buildings such as churches, they are stealing from all of us and damaging something which, in many cases, is irreplaceable.”

“By working together with law enforcement agencies, we are seeking to maximise our ability to identify those who are attacking our shared cultural heritage and to bring them to justice.”

“Historic England will continue to work with members of the National Metal Theft and Heritage Crime Working Groups to develop new and innovative approaches to protecting England’s historic sites and buildings for future generations to enjoy”

Notes to editors: The other forces who took part in Operation Crucible were Metropolitan Police, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Cleveland, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Dyfed Powys, Suffolk, Gwent and Thames Valley Police.


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