TAXI drivers are being urged to join forces with police and deter metal thieves – or face being prosecuted.
Hartlepool Police say some cabbies have been seen dropping people off at scrap yards in the town with what are suspected to be stolen items, such as copper piping and lead from roofs.
The Mail reported yesterday how two operations have been launched to deal with the rise of valuable metal thefts in the town and police chiefs are now urging taxi firms to get on board.
Acting Chief Inspector Lee Rukin, of Hartlepool Police, said: “We need to educate taxi drivers that by carrying these people they are breaking the law.
“They have an obligation to help reduce crime in the town and when people get in their cars with these items they should be thinking about where they have come from.
“They should also be thinking ‘am I allowed to carry waste?’, and the simple answer is no as they do not have a licence for it. That leaves them open to prosecution, which is not what we want.
“We work very closely with the drivers in this town and they have been a big help in many ways, most notably in the night time economy and we hope to continue those good relationships.”
Operation Throttle and Operation Duracell will see officers posted on the gates of the town’s three scrapyards, Sims Metal Management, in Windermere Road, EMR, in Thomlinson Road, and Pout & Foster, in Mainsforth Terrace.
Covert operations are also being carried out each night with plain-clothed police walking, cycling and driving around the streets in a bid to catch thieves red handed.
Acting Chf Insp Rukin added: “Anyone entering a scrapyard in a taxi will be stopped and will have to prove that they have legally obtained what they are carrying.
“If they don’t they will be arrested, and the taxi driver also runs the risk of being prosecuted.
“The theft of metal is a problem at the moment and we are determined to do all we can to stop those committing these crimes.”