A SALVAGE yard in Oxford is the first of many metal trade businesses across the Thames Valley to sign a new charter pledging to work in partnership with the police to reduce the opportunities for thieves to dispose of stolen metal.
Operation Precious was launched on Friday, 9th January at Metal Salvage Ltd, in Jackdaw Lane, Oxford and aims to encourage salvage yards to avoid becoming inadvertent handlers of stolen property by checking all incoming metals for security marking.
The initiative is being launched by Thames Valley Police in conjunction with security marking company Selectamark, which produces SelectaDNA Grease, a new forensic product which carries a unique DNA code that can be traced on stolen metals as well as clothing and the hands of anyone who comes into contact with it.
Metal theft has been a major problem nationwide over the last couple of years with thieves trying to sell stolen cars, lead roofing, road signs, electrical cables and copper pipes to salvage yards. Thefts of items such as statues, rail track and street lights have also been reported as criminals attempted to sell them for scrap and cash in on the boom in commodities.
Nick Gilbert, Crime Reduction Officer at Thames Valley Police, said: “There has been an ongoing problem with stolen metal in this area and we are confident that SelectaDNA will reduce metal theft and increase the chance of thieves being caught and prosecuted when they try to offload the metal to local scrap yards. We will be rolling this scheme out across the whole of the Thames Valley area over the coming months.”
Prior to Operation Precious there had been no easy way for salvage yard bosses to verify whether metal they were handling had been stolen or not.
James Brown, sales director at Selectamark, said: "If metal items are marked with SelectaDNA and then recovered by police, they can be identified and returned to their rightful owner. Most significantly though, it acts as a massive deterrent to thieves, as the unique solution transfers to offenders' hands and clothing, and marked goods are extremely difficult to sell on. If caught with the marked goods the thief is instantly linked to the crime.”
Operation Precious was launched on the same day that the Home Office announced they are to set up a nationwide police team to tackle theft of metal, which is worth about 360 million pounds a year in the UK alone. The National Metal Theft Crime Unit will investigate scrap dealers across the country to clamp down on the handling of stolen metal such as church roofs, telephone poles and manhole covers.
Lindsay Millington, a spokeswoman for the British Metals Recycling Association, said: “Metal theft is a major headache for our industry. There are too many criminals evading the rules and seeking to piggy- back the industry’s success.”
Steel, copper and aluminium traded at record levels last year before slumping as global economic growth slowed.
Inspector Brian Cooper, the Neighbourhood Inspector for the East Oxford Area, said: “Despite the recent drop in scrap metal prices, they will undoubtedly rise again so there is still no room for complacency. Operation Precious will build upon our strong working relationships and together with our partners we will do our best to cut off the methods of disposal of stolen metals.”
Selectamark Security Systems plc, 1 Locks Court, 429 Crofton Road, Locksbottom, Kent, BR6 8NL. Telephone: +44 1689 860757.
Thames Valley Police Press Officer. Kristin Bernhard. Telephone: 08458 505 505. Email: [email protected]
Thames Valley Police website: http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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