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Metal thieves – your time is up, say police forces in the north west region who report that they have improved collaboration and methods of sharing information and intelligence. Inspector Dave Rams, who acts as a co-ordinator for all north west forces, said: “All police forces, including British Transport Police, are now working together very closely to look at problematic areas and those thieves who cause communities most harm.
“In the past we have done this on a force-by-force basis which has worked for individual areas, but has, in some cases, seen criminals travelling between forces with little intelligence passing in the same manner. This new approach will ensure all forces are aware of active metal thieves across the region and will work together to take action against thieves and deter those who might be thinking about turning to metal theft.”
Launched in May, Operation Tornado seeks to ensure that people selling scrap metal to participating dealers in the region will be required to provide proof of their identity – a photo card driving licence including an address, or a passport or national ID card supported by a utility bill, which must be under three months old and show their address.
Insp Rams added: “Operation Tornado is one of a number of measures being explored to restrict the sale and movement of stolen metal. It has been designed not to inhibit those dealers that operate legitimate businesses, but to remove unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law. Together with tightened legislation, due to come into effect later this year, and improved collaboration, we believe Operation Tornado will spell the beginning of the end for metal thieves across the north west.
“Of course, we still require assistance from the public to provide information about potential thieves in their area. Metal thieves have caused misery for communities across the region and the railway has experienced significant issues for some time, but throughout 2011 criminals have been diversifying and targeting metal from other areas, including power cables, utilities pipe work, telecommunications cabling, residential properties, businesses and catalytic converters from vehicles.
“If you have information any form of metal theft please call your local police force or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”
BTP officers investigating the theft of cable from the railway in the Water Orton area naer Birmingham are re-appealing for information from the public. The force is also reminding members of the public that Network Rail is offering a £10,000 reward for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the thefts.
Thieves struck in the Park Hill Wood area at around 12.40am on Saturday, April 28. Engineers from Network Rail reported a power failure in the area and subsequently discovered around 40m of signalling cable had been stolen from the location. Officers are also investigating a second theft which took place on the line at Marsh Lane, Water Orton, on Thursday, May 3. Around 70m of live cable was stolen on that occasion.
Both thefts led to severe disruption and delays to services in the Birmingham area and beyond, causing major inconvenience for thousands of rail passengers.
Network Rail bosses have put up a £10,000 reward for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the cable thefts at Water Orton.
Detective Chief Inspector John Pyke, who is leading the BTP investigation, said: “In relation to the theft on Saturday, 28 April, I am still keen to trace the occupants of a vehicle seen in the area who may have information which could assist the investigation.
“The vehicle is a Renault Clio. It is not the current model – we understand it is the three-door type from around 2002/03.
“It is traditional standard silver colour, with a metallic finish, black bumpers and windows which appear to be darker than standard glass.
“The Clio badge on the back may also have been removed and there’s no black stripe along the side of the vehicle, indicating it may have been colour-coded or removed.
“The vehicle’s suspension may also have been lowered, in they style favoured by so-called boy racers.
“It is described as being in really clean, pristine condition suggesting that whoever owns the Clio takes real pride in the vehicle.
“I would appeal to anyone who recognises the description of this car, or who knows its owner, to come forward and contact British Transport. Or if you are the owner, please come forward as we need to eliminate this car from our enquiry.
“Similarly, if you have ANY information about cable theft in this area – we would like to hear from you.
“The theft of railway cable is not just an attack on the railways – it is an attack on YOUR community as it causes huge inconvenience to people who are unable to travel, or miss important appointments, as a result of delays or cancellations to train services.”