Lancashire Police metal theft scrapyard crackdown
A 50% increase in metal theft in Lancashire over the past year has prompted police to interview scrap dealers in a week-long campaign.
Operation Starling has seen Lancashire Police visiting scrapyards and warning dealers of their legal duty to complete paperwork over metal transactions.
Roadside checks have also been carried out on metal-carrying vehicles to discover whether loads are stolen.
The operation was backed by government agencies and British Transport Police.
Police said that between April 2010 and March 2011, there were 3,014 metal theft crimes in Lancashire, which is a 48.3% increase - an extra 1,456 crimes, on top of those reported in the previous year.
Lead flashing, copper boilers and piping and cables from train lines are among the metals stolen.
Supt Eddie Wylie, of British Transport Police, said: "With scrap metal dealers' support we can make it very difficult for metal thieves to operate as clearly they have to have an avenue to convert what they've stolen into cash.
"Good record keeping makes this very difficult and without this dealers can establish a perfect environment for criminals to sell on stolen goods, safe in the knowledge they will never be traced.
"Where dealers are found to be neglecting these responsibilities we will not hesitate to put them before the courts."
Officers visited yards in Fleetwood, Chorley, Padiham, Preston and Blackburn, where they used specialist torches to look for anti-theft marking systems which would allow them to trace the metal back to its origin.