Midland scrap metal businesses have been asked to comply with a new set of security rules in a bid to clamp down on metal thieves selling on stolen goods.
Operation Tornado, which came into force in the West Midlands Police area on September 13, is a voluntary scheme which sees participating dealers asking anyone who wants to sell scrap for identification and proof of address.
The majority of traders across the region will participate in the scheme, according to West Midlands Police.
The scheme was developed in partnership with the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Home Office.
Ian Hetherington, director general at the BMRA, said Operation Tornado was effective.
“In the north-east, after Tornado had been operating for about two months, all but about four yards had signed up to this,” he said.
“If they don’t join and don’t join willingly, the police will make their presence felt.”
A new Midlands region metal theft taskforce, which sits within West Midlands Force CID, has been set up to tackle organised criminals stealing large-scale or high-value metals.
Detective Inspector Gordon Roberts, who leads the new team, said: “In the areas where scrap yards are most common, mainly in the Black Country, the local police teams are visiting their businesses every other day.
“Whilst this might sound a lot, particularly to legitimate business owners, we have to act to stop people from becoming victims of this crime.
“Metal theft affects all walks of life, from the homeowner through to major industry and it is important that we continue to see fewer victims.
“We will be working with dealers to enforce this code of conduct until legislation kicks in later in the year.
“We want to work with them to professionalise the industry and target the people who are dealing in criminal acquisition of property.”
West Midlands, West Mercia, Staffordshire and Warwickshire forces have received £75,000 from the Home Office to target metal theft.
Operation Steel, which has been running throughout the region for more than two years, has seen tighter controls for scrap metal traders.
DI Roberts added: “In the past we have seen criminals travelling hundreds of miles, across several police boundaries, to sell on what they have stolen because they know that some forces have been tough on cracking down on scrap metal dealers.
“Operation Tornado will get rid of that trend, as the whole country will be coming on board to make sure traders up and down the UK are all following the same rules and regulations when it comes to ID.
“We know that in the West Midlands we have been robust in ensuring our traders are acting within the law, and their customers are taking note.
“We are determined to ensure that the market for thieves to sell on the property dries up, and that legal traders can continue with their business in peace.”