A county operation targeting metal thefts has helped see a reduction of more than 11 per cent of incidents compared to the previous 12 months.
Officers from Northamptonshire Police have been working hard during the past year to cut the number of metal thefts across the county.
Sergeant Mark McDonnell of the Rural Crime Team said: “One of our tactics as part of the operation is to target the vehicles used by offenders.
“The Rural Crime Team has been engaging with individuals and groups in the rural and business communities to request that they immediately phone the police with details of any vehicles seen in suspicious circumstances.
“Examples might include vehicles driving around fields, people who appear to be tampering with electric or phone lines, hare coursing, people entering premises without authority, taking items from recycling skips, or touting for scrap.
“It is important that people call the police as quickly as possible so that we have the best possible chance of preventing and detecting these crimes.
“We check the details of every vehicle registration reported to us; no call is considered to be a waste of our time.
“As a result of the 908 calls received in the last year, 175 vehicles have been identified as suspected of being used in crimes involving rural incidents or metal theft.
“Consequently, the police have stopped 154 of these vehicles in the last year. 68 were immediately seized - mostly due to not having the relevant insurance cover to carry scrap metal.
“A number of these stops also resulted in the arrest of the driver.
“We work closely with Local Authority enforcement officers regarding the production of Waste Carrier certificates.
“A Northampton man recently received a fine of over £1,500 for failing to produce his certificate when stopped carrying scrap metal.”
As the operation celebrates a successful first year, the message to offenders will be driven home even further as tougher legislation on metal theft has been announced.
Changes to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act will outlaw all cash transactions at metal recycling yards across England and Wales and there will be a significant increase in fines for dealers who fail to abide by the rules.
ACPO lead on metal theft Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “For some time police forces and colleagues across several industries have called for tougher legislation in respect of metal theft.
“The measures introduced will seriously curtail the market for stolen metal as there will now be a clear audit trail back to those bringing commodities into recycling yards and severe sanctions for those who step out of line.”
Sergeant McDonnell added: “I am liaising with other forces and expect the new legislation to be enacted in early December.
“We continue to regularly visit, inspect and advise the Scrap Metal dealers in the county.
“A voluntary scheme is currently in place which requires photo identification and vehicle details to be obtained from the seller. We will rigorously check the compliance of the new law which will make it a criminal offence for dealers to pay cash for scrap metal.”