At first glance, the area might have looked like some sort of keg party gone horribly wrong, but a scrap yard in Staffordshire was the site of Britain’s largest stolen metals bust — ever. Tackling the growing problem of metals theft, U.K. police “took a bite out of crime” when then they searched the New Halden Metals yard last week and uncovered £700,000 worth of scrap metal, composed of numerous beer kegs, cables and 200 tons of rail-track.
For the Staffordshire Police, stolen metals recovery is becoming an important part of the job. “Recovering stolen metal is an ongoing goal,” Police Captain Dave Stubbs told the BBC News. “We have recovered a significant amount of stolen property, and efforts will now be made to reunite the property with its owners. Metal theft is an international problem with local consequences and [our newly-created] Operation Amalgam is determined to address local issues by targeting those involved in metal theft — including people who receive stolen goods.”
The British Transport Police are also involved with the operation, and members of the force helped search the scrap yard last week. According to BTP Detective Tony Nugent, “With the high price of metals on world commodity markets, metal and cable theft has become a significant problem for the rail industry, utilities and telecommunications providers. On the railways, theft of cable and other metals causes massive disruption to services. Thieves are risking their lives as well as prison.”
Nugent noted that earlier this month, a metals thief had been jailed for three years. Criminals could face heavier penalties if the crimes continue: “This has been a major seizure and scrap dealers need to be aware that police forces across the country are co-operating in a crackdown on metal theft.”