Police metal theft scheme to expand?

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A CLAMPDOWN on metal theft in the Wolds could be carried out in the Spilsby area to combat the increasing criminal problem and its affect on rural communities.

On Friday Lincolnshire Police led a multi-agency operation around Horncastle resulting in the arrest of three people suspected of metal theft and profiting from the proceeds of crime.

Operation Albany formed part of a countywide campaign named Operation Brompton focusing on the growing problem of lead and copper theft throughout rural Lincolnshire.

Although this particular operation targeted the Horncastle area, scrap stolen from the Spilsby area is believed to have been sold to some of the illegal scrap metal dealers identified.

Police have also indicated similar operations could take place around Spilsby - although details of when this might happen will not be released to avoid alerting the culprits.

A police spokesperson said: “As the prices for raw materials soar in the Far East, criminals seek opportunities to steal copper, lead, cabling and other metals that can be resold lucratively.

“Over the past few months, there has been an increase in metal thefts right across the force area.

“The victims are often the focal point of a community - local churches, village halls, nurseries or schools or isolated residential or commercial properties where there is easy access to the site and thefts of metal can take place out of view and unchallenged.

“Such thefts can have a disproportionate effect on rural communities and increase both public fear of crime and reduce confidence in local policing,” they added.

Mayor of Spilsby Coun Michael Lenton said that although there had been attempts to remove metal from the Franklin Hall, he believes the worst hit areas are the town’s surrounding villages and rural communities.

He has condemned the perpetrators of metal theft.

“People blame it on the recession and the state of the economy but poverty is no excuse for theft - never has been, never will be,” he said.

Operation Albany involved Lincolnshire Police, VOSA, British Transport Police, MOD Police, and the Environment Agency.

Officers stationed at check points outside Horncastle stopped and checked vehicles believed to be transporting scrap metal.

Sergeant Rich Comins said: “There are two large metal dealers and one smaller dealer in the town and so we see a large volume of traffic coming into Horncastle to weigh in scrap metal.

“The majority of loads will be perfectly legitimate scrap.

“But there will also undoubtedly be a number of people who visit scrap dealers with lead, copper and other metals that have been procured through theft,” he added.