Police launch major crackdown on metal thefts

Police have launched a major campaign to crack down on and put out of business the metal thieves who blight communities.

Local officers are taking part in a national initiative targeting those who steal metalwork.

Operation Caraway will - for the first time - see officers from all 14 divisions of Police Scotland and British Transport Police (BTP) participate in two weeks of action to crack down on the thieves and dealers who trade stolen material.

There have been rising rates of metal thefts over the past few years.

A plaque was stolen from Baldernock War Memorial in 2011 and this year a memorial to a Falklands War veteran was prised off the Prescott Bridge, near Murray Park.

St Paul’s Church in Milngavie was hit by lead thieves twice in one week this year, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird, chair of the Metal Theft (Scotland) Group, said: “Everyday life is still being disrupted by thieves who steal lead from roofs, cable which results in train delays and cancellations and utility companies are reporting damage which causes power and communication outages and even sub-station fires.

“These reckless actions cost our local and national economy estimated in excess of £700million each year.”

Throughout the duration of the operation – which runs until Friday, September 6 – police officers will be joining forces with a number of partner agencies to visit scrap metal dealers and each division will be carrying out roadside checks to identify those conveying stolen metal.

Superintendent Alan Cunningham of Police Scotlandsaid: “Metal theft is a top priority for Police Scotland.

“We are committed to putting as many criminals before the courts as possible. In addition to issues of criminality, metal theft presents a big safety risk.

“We’re asking businesses and the public to play their part. Lock away machinery and don’t assume workmen wearing yellow jackets are always genuine.

“If you spot suspicious activity, such as unmarked vans removing cables or people without identification collecting metal from gardens, let us know. Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the non-emergency number 101.”