AN ILL-WIND for metal thieves has started blowing in Hertfordshire.

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Police unleashed Operation Tornado across the county today (Monday).

It is a new drive to further tackle metal theft and send a clear message to criminals that there is no market for stolen metals in the county.

The operation, which has already been successfully trialled in the north of England and the West Midlands, is aimed at making it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme.

So far, 17 scrap metal dealers – 80 per cent of those in the county – have signed up to the scheme which involves asking anyone selling scrap metal for cash to prove their identity.

Det Ch Insp Liz Hanlon, who leads Operation Devon, the Herts force’s dedicated initiative to drive down metal theft, said: “It is an issue for the whole country. It can destroy historic buildings and churches, disrupt travel, leave homes without power or means of communication and costs local businesses thousands of pounds.

“By having the co-operation of scrap dealers as part of Operation Tornado we are effectively disrupting and deterring those criminals who approach dealers with stolen metal to make a quick profit from others’ loss.

“We hope the introduction of these measures will restrict the sale and movement of stolen metal. It has been designed not to inhibit those dealers that operate lawfully, but to remove unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law.”

Members of the public can help in the fight against metal thieves by reporting any suspicious behaviour to police via the non-emergency number 101, as well as ensuring they lock their sheds securely and lock away any tools and bikes after use.

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