1. ITV Report

Police crack down on metal theft in Northamptonshire

In Northamptonshire Operation Silver Fox is under way Photo: ITV

It is an increasingly common crime which create a huge number of victims.

Metal thefts disrupt transport, power and communications but its hoped a crackdown by police across Northamptonshire will act as a deterrent to thieves.

At Kettering police station in Northamptonshire Operation Silver Fox is under way.

It aims to end the misery that metal theft causes.

Churchwarden Peter Horrix at St Andrews Broughton spoke about discovering his church had been a target of the crime.

"We went through the door, right through here, and were greeted with water pouring through the ceiling. We immediately rushed outside to look at the roof and saw that quite an amount of lead had been stolen from the roof. it is really disturbing when something like that happens".

As well as reassuring victims, officers reminded known scrap metal dealers about the law.

Chief Constable Adrian Lee: It isn't just the vicar that is the victim, it's the whole community who have a sense of belonging to the church. If you steal a bit of cable that's feeding into a village, it's that whole village that's without electricity or without access to the internet".

An unannounced visit to a recycling centre saw everything came under scrutiny as officers checked for traces of smart water - a chemical used to identify stolen metal.

Sgt Simon Lloyd says the county loses a substantial amount of metal each year.

"Northamptonshire between April-September 2011 lost around £830,000 worth of metal -which was reported stolen. So that's partly the reason why we're here at our local scrap dealership".

Police say the operation serves as a useful deterrent to anyone in Northamptonshire trying to sell stolen metal.

A change in the law is due next month to make selling metal more difficult and the police expects a reduction in thefts.

If not, the crackdowns will continue.