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18 January 2012, 12:40
Ten scrapyards have been shut down in the latest raids by police in the North East tackling Britain's metal theft problem
A total of 36 arrests were made by forces during raids across Durham, Cleveland and Northumbria.
The 10 sites shut down had failed to co-operate voluntarily with Operation Tornado, an initiative to make the sale of stolen metal for scrap more difficult, British Transport Police (BTP) said.
The suspects were being questioned on suspicion of money-laundering while officers seized ``large quantities'' of cash.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, of BTP, said: ``Scrap metal dealers have a responsibility to ensure the metal they buy is from legitimate sources and that they keep appropriate records.
``It is not acceptable to turn a blind eye to stolen metal. By helping criminals to turn stolen metal into cash, often quickly and easily, dealers are fuelling this crime which is blighting our infrastructure and disrupting the lives of ordinary people on a daily basis.''
BTP is said to regard cable theft as second only to terrorism in its list of priorities now.
Police, along with officials from the Home Office, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and other agencies, have been involved in operations in recent months to tackle thieves targeting railways, businesses and homes.