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Metal thieves will be the focus of police across Salford during the next few weeks

August 22, 2012, 11:01 am

Metal thieves will be the focus of police across Salford during the next few weeks.

This month British Transport Police, the national police force for the railway, will join forces with Greater Manchester Police to tackle the ongoing problem of metal and cable theft in the area.

Detective Sergeant Grahame Martland, who heads BTPs north west metal theft team, said: “There is no doubt that the theft of metal and cable is a major problem for many industries and communities.

“On the railway thefts can have a serious impact on track maintenance and the smooth running of the network with many of the thefts causing severe delays which cost the industry millions of pounds each year.

“As well as thefts from depots, criminals are increasingly willing to risk their lives to steal lineside cable causing considerable disruption to services.

“The majority of cable thieves are opportunist and as such will have little or no understanding of the workings of the cable they attempt to steal.

“Some of this cable carries extremely high voltage and we have seen a number of cases in which thieves have been seriously injured, suffering extensive burns, after cutting through live cable.”

He added: “Sadly it is not just the railway which is affected by metal thieves. In recent months we have seen criminals diversifying and targeting metal from other areas including power cables, utilities pipework, telecommunications cabling, residential properties, businesses, memorial and even vehicles. Whatever the crime, the net result is the same – disruption to everyday life and severe cost to the local and national economy.”

The August period is the latest response to this ever-present threat and will see officers working with partners to take action against thieves and educate those at the scrap yards used by criminals when selling on the stolen metal.

BTP and GMP are planning a variety of activities to disrupt and detect criminal behaviour as well as educating those in the scrap metal industry.

DS Martland added: “We are planning a whole range of tactics to tackle metal and cable theft in the area.

“We will have officers out and about in hot-spot locations looking out for thefts in progress. We will also be paying visits to known offenders to let them know we are in the area and will not hesitate to take action against anyone caught stealing metal.

“Meanwhile colleagues will be visiting scrap dealers to search for stolen metal, ensure the dealers are complying with current legislation and provide advice to the dealers about what to look out for when checking metal brought into their yards.”

Inspector Dave Rams, NW regional metal theft co-ordinator, added: “Across the region, as a whole, we have seen significant reductions in offending – particularly from those targeting the railway.

“This, in the main, is due to improved co-ordination between forces (through operations such as this in Salford) and new schemes brought in to make life more difficult for metal thieves to sell on the stolen goods.

“Sadly, despite the reductions, metal theft is still a serious problem and we have experienced problems in and around Salford during the past few weeks and months.

“This operation is designed to show those intent on stealing metal that police forces are committed to working together to limit opportunities for thieves and, where thefts do occur, to trace those responsible and put them before the courts.”

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