THE police’s zero tolerance of dodgy scrap metal dealing hit Wigan again this week with a series of co-ordinated road blocks.
And while the scores of vehicles that were hauled over were mainly done for motoring infringements rather than carrying suspicious loads, the statistics suggest that the war is being won.
A total of 18 vehicles were seized in Wigan and Tameside by officers working under Operation Alloy, Greater Manchester Police’s ongoing campaign to reduce metal theft.
Of the 119 vehicles stopped in Wigan borough, 48 were metal collectors and 24 were reported for traffic offences.
Working with the council’s licensing units, the UK Border Agency and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, two drivers were summonsed, seven vehicles were seized for having no licence, insurance or tax and two prohibition notices were served
Supt Craig Thompson, GMP’s lead on Alloy, said: “There is still a common misconception out there that metal theft is a victimless crime, whereas it actually threatens public safety and causes misery, inconvenience and expense to communities and individual householders.
“I’m pleased to report that Operation Alloy is making real progress in the fight against metal theft, with 5,664 fewer offences in its second year than in the 12 month-period before it was launched in July 2011.
“This is a very encouraging trend, but we must remain vigilant as there will always be those who try to operate illegally and trade in stolen metal.”
Local scrapyards - particularly in Wigan, Pemberton and Atherton, have been subjected to a number of surprise raids by the authorities in the last year.
There had been a large increase in scrap crimes, not least because the price had shot up.
Piping has been removed of empty homes, sometimes causing floods; electrical cabling on railway lines has been ripped out, leading to widespread train service disruption; and even manhole covers have been prised up and taken.
Anyone suspecting scrap theft or dealing, contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.