POLICE have made two more arrests and are following dozens of leads as the operation to tackle soaring incidents of metal thefts across Cambridgeshire continues. The county has been hit by a 170 per cent increase in metal thefts since last year, costing
POLICE have made two more arrests and are "following dozens of leads" as the operation to tackle soaring incidents of metal thefts across Cambridgeshire continues.
The county has been hit by a 170 per cent increase in metal thefts since last year, costing an estimated £500,000 a month and forcing some businesses to seek private security.
Cambridgeshire police launched Operation Saruman to target the criminals, and on Saturday it was announced a nationwide task force was also being set up.
Police believe the demand for metal in India and China is forcing prices up with copper now worth £4,000 a tonne, twice as much as two years ago.
In Cambridgeshire schools, churches, electricity sub stations, businesses, homes and telecommunications cabling have all been targeted - police figures show 58 incidents of metal theft in September and 41 in the first half of October.
But members of the public have been providing police with new information about the thefts, and the police are keen for more people to come forward.
Arrests have been made, including two at a scrap metal site in Peterborough, and the force said officers were successfully disrupting thieves at work.
Once such incident took place in the early hours of Saturday, October 13, on the A1 at Southoe, near St Neots. Officers stopped behind a Land Rover Discovery with its hazard lights on, causing the driver to flee. It was later discovered that the people in the Discovery had been attempting to steal telecommunications cables.
Detective Inspector Martin Brunning, who is leading Operation Saruman, said: "I am delighted with the response from members of the public and police officers - the crackdown on thieves is gathering momentum.
"I would urge the people of Cambridgeshire to continue providing us with information and report any suspicious behaviour, particularly around vulnerable buildings such as churches, schools and other public buildings.
"It is our aim to catch people in the act of committing these thefts and tip-offs from the public are crucial."
INFORMATION: Anyone with information is asked to contact DC Neil Hewson on 0845 4564564.