11:01AM, Tuesday 23 April 2013
Metal thefts across the area have been halved following a massive police operation.
The victory follows the setting up of a dedicated metal theft team, which saw 400 officers conduct multiple raids on 55 scrapyards and private homes. It led to 28 people being charged with around 200 offences.
The team also visited all 35 scrap metal dealers across the Thames Valley, asking them to keep detailed records of every transaction - effectively ending the 'cash in hand' culture.
As a result the last year has seen just over 2,000 metal thefts across the Thames Valley, as opposed to nearly 4,000 the year before - a fall of 48 per cent.
Churches, homes and schools had been targeted across the Windsor, Slough, Maidenhead area before that. Most horrifyingly a memorial statue to four boys who died on a ski trip was stolen from Ray Mill Island in Maidenhead.
This week Detective Inspector Ian Wood - South-east metal crime co-ordinator - said: "Most of these thefts involved only small amounts of money. But the impact on the community was intense."
He acknowledged that some dealers had been playing 'fast and loose' with the law in the past, taking no responsibility for where metal brought to them had come from. He said: "It had reached the stage where one guy was seen with a hacksaw cutting through the railings of a council-owned building in Slough in the daytime.
"Anyone could put a yellow, reflective jacket on and no-one would question them if they were taking metal away. Our high profile campaign made the public more alert.
"We had reports recently of men in Slough carrying billboards saying 'cash for scrap'. The business responsible soon got a visit from us."
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Police raided addresses in Lillibrooke Crescent, Cox Green, and in Crown Lane, Farnham Royal, at about 7.15am.