The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said the operation involving 38 forces across the UK was in response to a worrying increase in incidents including thefts which endangered the lives of the public.
Cases this year had included a house explosion caused by the theft of domestic gas copper tubing.
ACPO compiled figures indicate the problem has grown by 150 per cent over the last two years and it is estimated this form of crime costs businesses and the public £360 million annually.
www.hvnplus.co.uk reported in May that many areas were being beset by problems from Humberside to Cardiff.
Chris Hughes, who manages the Cardiff Council’s vacant housing stock, told the website that thieves had left gas leaking out of pipework at an empty property while in another incident a boiler and pipework had been repeatedly stolen from a house being prepared for a young mum to move into.
Asisstant Chief Constable Paul Crowther, ACPO lead on metal theft said: “The increasing price of metal in overseas markets over the last four years has led to an increase in theft of metals in the UK for its scrap value.
“Signalling cable, bronze statues, drain hole covers and even the metal from church and school roofs has been stolen with a substantial cost to communities and industry.
“This is far from being a victimless crime. Thousands of people have seen their community facilities stolen or damaged by thieves looking for a quick gain, or have suffered service disruption to railways and telecoms. The problem ranges from opportunistic to large scale organised theft.”
The operation is targeting hotspots for transporting stolen metal, visiting scrap metal yards and conducting overt and covert operations. Operations are also using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) devices to identify vehicles of police interest.
ACC Crowther said: “Excellent work is being done in partnerships between police and industry across the country and two days of action and arrests demonstrate a stand against those involved in this serious crime.
“Police forces across the country are also working closely with the British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) to assist them in helping scrap metal dealers to comply with trading legislation and identify those traders who are unlicensed and trading illegally.
“By removing the market for stolen metals the theft becomes much less attractive and so we are encouraging scrap metal dealers to keep detailed records of transactions and be particularly vigilant in reporting to police if they suspect metals have been stolen.”
Read previous article here.