The operation, codenamed Operation Starling, saw officers from Lancashire Constabulary carrying out visits to scrap yards and metal dealers, making crime prevention visits to vulnerable premises and conducting roadside stop-checks of vehicles suspected to be involved in the transportation of metal.
The activity, which took place between Thursday 8th March and Thursday 15th March, has been supported by a number of other agencies including Trading Standards, British Transport Police, VOSA and various local authorities.
“We are committed to tackling the problem of metal theft which costs victims in Lancashire thousands of pounds each year," said Chief Inspector Jon Bullas, who has been overseeing the operation. “Thieves have targeted homes and businesses as well as buildings like churches, causing significant damage and distress.
“It is our firm intention to reduce this type of crime by working with local communities on crime prevention projects and by disrupting criminal activity and putting suspected offenders before the courts.”
Between April 2010 and March 2011, there were 3,014 metal theft crimes in Lancashire. This is a 48.3 per cent increase – or an extra 1,456 crimes – from the 1,558 reported between April 2009 and March 2010.
Lead flashing, copper boilers and piping and cables from train lines are amongst the metals stolen.
Chief Inspector Bullas appealed for the public’s help to enable police to continue their work, urging them to contact 101 with details of suspicious activity. He also issued the following advice to homeowners and businesses.
- Avoid leaving anything lying around that could be used to help a thief e.g. ladders.
- Make it difficult for thieves to move stolen goods by storing wheelbarrows and wheelie bins securely.
- Consider anti-vandal paint and property marking.
- Use alternative materials to lead for any repairs - to reduce the risk of becoming a target for thieves.
- Regularly check your roofs so that any theft is found before it rains and further damage is caused.
- Consider installing security lighting, particularly at roof level where metal roof coverings are present.
- Anyone with information about the theft of metal can call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.