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News Release

Ore tackles scrap metal theft

Dated: 01 Feb 2012

A police car with a vehicle seized.

Police in North Tyneside led a joint operation targeting illegal scrap metal collectors.

Officers working with Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA), and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stopped scrap metal collectors and checked their licences, loads, vehicles and fuel during the first day of Operation Ore. The joint initiative was carried out on Friday (January 27) and will continue into the future.

Many of the vehicles stopped had serious technical faults and six were issued with Prohibitions Notices by VOSA which means they will now be off the road until they are made safe and pass an MOT.  One vehicle was uplifted because the driver had no insurance and seven drivers were summonsed due to various vehicle and driving offences.

Chief Inspector Mark Anastasi, of North Tyneside Area Command said: "We want to send a clear message to scrap metal dealers that they must work within the law and make sure that their vehicles and their loads are safe on our roads.

"The first day of Operation Ore was a success and we are determined to build on this in the future.  It is an intelligence led initiative which, with the support of our partners, allowed us to target metal collectors we suspect of acting illegally in North Tyneside.

"We believe the success of this first day of this operation will make other scrap metal collectors think twice about their methods when they realise they will be targeted and face prosecution where offences are identified."

Gary Walker, VOSA's Senior Vehicle Examiner in Newcastle said: "The defects found on these vehicles varied from serious tyre, brake system, suspension defects and excessive vehicle chassis corrosion. All of these defects can pose a threat to road safety, not only to the vehicle driver but to other road users.

"VOSA has carried out several of these checks during 2011 and more will follow throughout 2012."

Pat Curtis, National Oils Coordinator, Specialist Investigations, HMRC said: “HM Revenue & Customs are committed to working in partnership with Northumbria Police to tackle this issue. People who use rebated fuel illegally are abusing a tax system set up to support and reduce the burden on industries such as agriculture.

"Our message to those who wilfully persist in using red diesel unlawfully is a simple one - anyone can be stopped and tested and you will pay a fine or risk losing your vehicle."

Operation Ore is a North Tyneside initiative which was designed to support Operation Tornado, the new north east operation which started this year.  It is spearheaded by the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Home Office and British Transport Police together with Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police, and targets those involved illegally in the scrap metal trade.

Anyone with concerns about crime or disorder where they live can contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.