FOUR suspected metal thieves were arrested after a police swoop through the night.
Police held four men after two raids in Hartlepool when a “substantial quantity” of high value lead was stolen.
The arrests come as police step up their war on metal theft after saying Hartlepool is being “systematically” pulled apart by the criminals.
Three men were arrested on suspicion of stealing lead in the Clavering area of town while another man was arrested in connection with a haul on the Headland.
All the suspects were quizzed at Hartlepool Police Station yesterday.
Inspector Peter Howarth, of Hartlepool Police, said: “We have detained a number of males for both incidents and they are helping us with our inquiries.
“A substantial quantity of lead was recovered in the Headland incident.”
Officers attended Tremaine Close at 12.50am yesterday after reports of someone trying to take lead off a roof.
Then at 2.17am they were called to Henry Smith’s Terrace on the Headland.
One man was arrested at the scene and an 18-year-old suspect was tracked down to the beach by the force helicopter.
He was arrested on suspicion of theft and going equipped.
Police launched Operation Guardian earlier this year to tackle metal thieves who are having a huge impact on the town. Manhole covers, live electric cables and gas meters are among a host of essential items that have been stolen.
Officers say the hard economic times means there are plenty of people willing to make quick cash from weighing in metals such as copper and lead.
Crooks have targeted churches, schools, charities and Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park ground.
Action being taken included police checking items being taken into scrapyards to make sure they are not stolen and stepping up night-time patrols around potential targets.
Police say the items being taken not only cause danger but affect the town’s infrastructure with trains being delayed, phones cut off and facilities closed.
Drug addicts are being blamed for a large portion of incidents as they look to make quick and easy money to fund their habits that can cost £150 a day to feed.
Neighbourhood officers are also working with various partners in the town, including Hartlepool Borough Council, to protect buildings and catch those responsible.
Anyone wanting to report a metal theft can contact Hartlepool Police on (01642) 326326 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.