A giant dragon statue, a statue of Christ, copper cabling and hundreds of memorial plaques were amongst the haul seized by police in a raid on a south-west London scrap metal dealer's yard.
The distinctive bronze dragon statue, which weighs around a tonne and is worth around £3,500, had been recorded on the police stolen arts database - its owners from Teddington have now been informed.
Police have been trying to trace where the plaques have come from. As some had been marked with Smartwater, a chemical idenfication liquid, police believe at least 40 of them were stolen from a Beckenham crematorium. Detective Inspector Brian Hobbs of Croydon Police says the theft of stolen plaques can be heartbreaking for the relatives of the deceased.
Police launched the raid after receiving intelligence that the yard was involved in the illegal scrap metal trade. The owner and another employee have now been charged.
The yard was one of several who were raided in a two-day operation on Monday and Tuesday, which saw a total of ten arrests.The Met say there are at least 100 metal theft offences reported in the capital each week. Metal theft is estimated to cost at least £700 million a year to the economy.