SCOTTISH police forces are to band together to crack down on metal thefts.
Crooks have increasingly been targeting lead from roofs and stolen cable resulting in train delays and cancellations; widespread power loss; or loss of telephone and internet connections.
Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird, chair of the ACPOS Metal Theft Group, said: “Metal theft in any form is a real blight on society and sadly has been having a greater impact on communities in recent months.
“The rail network has experienced significant issues for some time, but throughout 2011, we have seen criminals diversifying and targeting metal from other areas including power cables, utility pipes, telecommunications cabling, residential properties, businesses and even vehicles.
“All affected industries are working together to tackle the problem which has now become a significant threat to the infrastructure of Scotland. The public, however, can be assured that we are all working to make life much more difficult for the thieves and any unscrupulous scrap metal dealers.
“Despite this there are still some criminals who are prepared to take risks to steal metal, and it is these people we will be targeting with the latest operation.”
Code of conduct
During the national day of action this Friday, officers and officials will be visiting scrap metal dealers to educate owners about what to look out for when people bring metal into their yards.
Advice will be given to residents and businesses on how to make their metal more secure and more difficult to steal.
Forces will be carrying out roadside checks to target those using the road network to convey stolen material.
Chief Superintendent Bird added: “All police forces recognise the significance of metal theft and are committed to dealing swiftly and firmly with those who seek to profit from the theft of metal and we will continue to put as many criminals as possible before the courts.”
“Our extensive work with scrap metal recyclers includes close liaison with the British Metals Recycling Association to bring in a voluntary code of conduct, educating dealers about the methods used by thieves and showing dealers what stolen metal could look like, has made life more difficult for thieves and we will continue this work to further frustrate criminals.
“But we know that the thieves are still operating and we are aware that there remains a minority of metal recyclers operating in an unscrupulous manner. So we will target those dealers who continue to flout the law and will use all legal means as well as the powers available to partner agencies to bring the criminals to justice.”