POLICE teamed up with West Yorkshire’s scrap dealers to get tough with thieves.

They were at scrapyards across the region as part of a day of action against a rising tide of crime – the theft of metal.

And the message of the campaign was: metal theft is not a victimless crime.

British Transport Police (BTP) highlighted the impact that the thefts of copper cables and other metals can have.

Incidents in West Yorkshire have included:

A teenage boy electrocuted in Leeds last month when apparently trying to steal metal from a disused fire station.

Firefighters cheating death when a house in Castleford exploded when thieves stripped out cables.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds damage caused to household appliances in Liversedge when cables were taken from an electricity sub-station.

Deadly live wires exposed when thieves stripped cables from posts in Emley.

The theft of copper, lead and other metals has risen dramatically over the past six months as metal prices soar.

The BTP said many thieves believe only large corporations suffer, but they want to get across that individuals and communities are also affected.

The number of deaths and injuries among thieves has also risen.

According to the Energy Networks Association (ENA) there have been more than 7,000 incidents in the past year leading to four fatalities and up to 31 injuries.

Det Chief Insp Tony Bolton: “This is not just about little bits of scrap metal.”

The BTP is also working with other police forces, agencies and industries across the country to develop ways of addressing the problem.

BTP Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “Every single metal theft is an attack on either an individual or the wider community.

“When thieves steal lead from residential properties the householder suffers, when they steal from a school or church hundreds of people are potentially affected.

“That number increases dramatically when criminals target cabling, particularly rail, power and communications, which deprive thousands of people of transport links and vital utilities.”

Police forces across the country are also working with British Metal Recycling Association to educate scrap metal dealers who may not realise that some of the material they receive has been stolen.