As the theft of metal continues, Crimestoppers is joining Scotland’s police officers in a national initiative targeting those who continue to blight communities across the country [27 August 2013].

Operation Caraway will - for the first time - see officers from all 14 divisions of Police Scotland and British Transport Police (BTP) participate in two weeks of action to crack down on the thieves and dealers who trade stolen material.

“Everyday life is still being disrupted by thieves who steal lead from roofs; cable, which results in train delays and cancellations and utility companies are reporting damage which causes power and communication outages and even sub-station fires. “These reckless actions also severely cost our local and national economy estimated in excess of £700million each year.”

Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird, chair of the Metal Theft (Scotland) Group

Throughout the duration of the operation – which runs until Friday 6 September – police officers will be joining forces with a number of partner agencies to visit scrap metal dealers and each division will be carrying out roadside checks to identify those conveying stolen metal.

Superintendent Alan Cunningham, Safer Communities, Police Scotland added: ‘Metal theft is a top priority for Police Scotland and its partners. We are committed to putting as many criminals before the courts as possible. In addition to issues of criminality, metal theft presents a big safety risk, not only to the public, but to emergency responders and utility engineers.

“During Operation Caraway, you expect to see high visibility policing, but we’re asking the business community and public to play their part too. Lock away any equipment and machinery and don’t assume workmen wearing yellow jackets are always genuine.

“If you spot any suspicious activity, such as unmarked vans removing cables or people without identification collecting metal from gardens then let us know. You can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the police on their non-emergency number, 101.”

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “The Scottish Government is determined to tackle the increase in metal theft during recent years. This issue, as highlighted by recent incidents, can cause major problems for communities and major inconvenience for travellers as well as a range of other serious safety and cost issues.

“That is why we launched a consultation in April looking at changes to the regulation of the scrap metal industry to further protect both the interests of the public and of industry. It specifically focused on what conditions dealers should be subject to under a new licensing regime with all dealers licensed and looked at cash payments for metal. We are currently analysing the responses and will announce a way forward in the autumn.

“Tougher legislation needs to be combined with effective enforcement and I welcome this two week crackdown by the British Transport Police and Police Scotland, alongside a tougher prosecution policy so metal thieves increasingly have nowhere to hide.”

“Despite our efforts there are still criminals out there who are prepared to take risks to steal metal. However, the public and commerce can be assured we are working together to make life even more difficult for them.”

Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird, chair of the Metal Theft (Scotland) Group