POLICE in Northumberland are looking to hammer metal thieves.
Northumberland Area Command has set up a team of detectives and PCs dedicated to tackling the problem.
They will be gathering intelligence to identify suspected metal thieves, identifying hot spot areas for the offences and enforcing legislation at local scrap metal dealers.
All dealers within the county boundary have been identified by the team and visited by local officers. The dealers will be asked to sign up to a code of conduct as part of a forcewide initiative to tackle the problem.
The team will help the local neighbourhood teams in implementing and ensuring the code is adhered to.
Those dealers who refuse to cooperate with police and follow the guidelines outlined in the code will be monitored closely by police and given extra attention. The code relates to legislation around the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, particularly the quality and accuracy of record keeping which will be frequently checked and enforced where legal requirements are not met.
Joint visits to dealers with partner agencies including Northumberland County Council and the Environment Agency will also be carried out.
The team will support the work of the ongoing Operation Coin which is running throughout Northumberland and has seen over 2,000 vans, cars and lorries stopped in the hunt for metal thieves.
DCI Colin Green of Northumberland Area Command said: “Northumberland has seen metal thefts increase along with the rest of the country and crimes have included the theft of manhole covers, lead flashing, sections of roofs, memorial plaques and anything else the thieves have been able to get their hands on.
“This type of crime affects the whole community, whether it be historic landmarks, religious sites, schools or peoples homes.
“With the introduction of the metal theft team we are determined to see a reduction in these types of offences.”