The Sovereign Base Area Police took part in two Pan-European Action days on metal theft on May 21 and 22 in an attempt to combat the Europe-wide problem.
Metal theft has been on the increase in recent years and officials across Europe treat this type of offence as being a result of mobile organised crime groups and there is a huge push from governments to get the problem under control.
During last week’s action days, 19 member states of the EU took part, including the Republic of Cyprus, who also requested further cooperation with both Romania and Bulgaria in regards to sharing intelligence, a request which also included the SBAs.
Within the SBAs, police officers took to the streets in order to target lorries, Light Goods Vehicles and pick up trucks and in the WSBA, four scrap metal yards were issued with fixed penalty notices for violations.
A total of 95 vehicles were stopped within the ESBA and a further 29 were checked within the WSBA.
And although no vehicles were found to be carrying stolen metal, Chief Inspector Andreas Pitsillides believes the campaign was important for a number of reasons.
He said: “Whilst we did not make arrests for the stealing of scrap metal, it played an important role in raising awareness about this type of crime. It is a very serious crime and we are determined to tackle those who are doing it.
“Scrap metal also has VAT implications so there is close coordination with the Labour Office and that is one of the things that scrap metal yards were being checked for. If it is not declared then there will be VAT payable and that too is a serious offence.”
On top of checking vehicles and scrap yards, the chief inspector also revealed they used it as an opportunity to launch an education campaign: “We managed to distribute lots of leaflets about scrap metal theft and that is very important too. If we can educate people about the severity of this crime then we may be able to stop some people from carrying it out.”