POLICE continue to question suspects following a number of arrests at metal scrap yards throughout South Yorkshire.
A major operation involving 400 police officers resulted in 39 arrests across the county. Yards at Mexborough, Goldthorpe and Wombwell were among those targeted yesterday.
Operation Obtain was the largest single offensive yet against the metal thefts that blight communities.
Along with the arrests police recovered thousands of pounds of cash and luxury cars, and found mass stashes of Northern Grid and BT cable.
The message from police was clear - that they will act forcefully to break up criminal activity chains involving scrap metal. Their investigations are ongoing.
Among 17 partner agencies who worked alongside the police for seven months to track down suspects were officers from all four South Yorkshire Councils.
Other significant partners were the British Transport Police, utility companies and the Environment Agency, who targeted certain scrap companies in order to secure evidence to prosecute owners and employees for a variety of offences.
Once the police had made their arrests, officers from other agencies moved in.
The theft and illegal trading of scrap metal is estimated to cost £800 million per year in stolen metal alone to the UK economy. The issue has hit the headlines recently with the theft of war memorials, street gulley covers and copper cables from railways.
In 20011 to 2012 the cost to Rotherham Council of stolen metal and additional security arrangements is estimated at £170,000. Gully covers alone cost £120 each and pose significant dangers to road-users when they are removed.
More information regarding the recent arrests will be given shortly.