Operation to target metal theft in Sussex

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NEW measures to combat the increasing problem of metal theft are being introduced across Sussex and other areas in the south.

Operation Tornado is a national initiative aimed to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal and disrupt the activities of those dealers who operate illegal businesses.

Under the new scheme, individuals will be required to provide proof of their identity including their current address and a photograph when trying to sell scrap metals to dealers. The dealers will keep copies of all records for up to 12 months and make them available for inspection by police.

The operation was piloted by British Transport Police and other forces in the north earlier this year, and in these areas there has been a significant drop in the levels of metal theft. It is now being rolled out across the country.

Inspector Martin Pattenden, the Sussex Police lead for the operation, said: “Operation Tornado is one of a number of measures currently 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.

“We are hoping all registered scrap metal dealers will sign up to be involved to help fight the stolen metal trade and make it more difficult for thieves to make money by targeting our communities for metal. Those who do not sign up may now begin to find that they are receiving more attention from law enforcement.”

There are currently 47 licensed scrap metal dealers in Sussex, and more than 30 have so far signed up to Operation Tornado. 3,345 cases of metal theft have been reported to police in the three years ending December 2011. 472 were reported in 2009, 1,125 in 2010, and 1,748 in 2011. More than 80 per cent concerned lead from buildings and a further 14 per cent related to thefts of copper. The cases do not include those from the railway network, which are reported separately to British Transport Police.