A CHARITY has joined the fight to stop metal thieves ripping apart towns.
Crimestoppers, which helps the police to solve crimes and make communities safer, is launching a pilot campaign across the North-East to help tackle the crime.
They are calling on people to pass on information anonymously about those stealing items from manhole covers to lead from church roofs - and say useful tip-offs could lead to rewards.
Hartlepool was hit hard by the theft of metal. But police say it is now under control after a series of operations were launched and raids were carried out.
Dave Hunter, Crimestoppers regional manager for the region, said: “Crimestoppers wants to encourage the public to fight back against the metal thieves who create severe disruption for local communities and cost millions to the UK economy.
“We want to scrap the metal thieves and the local public can help us to do this by passing on any information they might have on those committing this crime anonymously to Crimestoppers.
“We don’t want to know who you are, only what you know, and you might even qualify for a reward.”
Operation Tornado is currently under way to crackdown on metal thieves and is being spearheaded by police forces, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Home Office, British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) and British Transport Police (BTP).
Its aim is to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme.
Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, of Hartlepool Police, has welcomed all initiatives that will support operations already under way in the town.
They have seen officers posted at the gates of scrap dealers and plain-clothed officers hitting the streets at night.
He has highlighted the reduction in metal thefts as one of the successes of 2011 after saying crooks were “systematically” pulling the town apart.
To help cut the crime, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or submit details at www.crimestoppers-uk.org