THIEVES are being warned against selling metal to help supplement their income in the runup to Christmas.

A week of action was held by British Transport Police after a new cashless system was introduced for anyone who sells scrap metal.

More than 380 officers across the region took part in the special operation, called Coastto- Coast, which specifically looked at how stolen metal is transported — taking in docks, trunk roads and metal recyclers.

Insp Dave Rams, who led the operation, said: “With new legislation making it much easier to trace thieves at the point of sale of stolen metal we switched our attention to the methods used to transport the material.

“This was a huge undertaking and we worked closely with several industries as well as agencies such as HMRC, the Environment Agency, Network Rail and UK Border Force to build a clear intelligence picture of how stolen metal is moved on.”

North West officers visited 150 scrap metal recycling yards and stopped 2,300 vehicles.