FINES amounting to nearly £15,000 have been issued by police during a week-long crackdown on metal theft.

Police joined forces with HM Revenue and Customs and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency to combat criminals who collect metal illegally.

Operation Alloy, which was held last week in Bolton saw police stop more than 320 vehicles — 28 of which were seized, and more than 150 offences were identified.

This resulted in more than £14,800 in fines.

Five people were arrested for offences including disqualified driving and possession of drugs.

Greater Manchester Police’s Co-ordinator for Operation Alloy, John Woods, said: “Across the force there has been a 70 per cent reduction of metal theft in the last few years and this has largely been down to various agencies working in close partnership and sharing information.

“In the last 12 months there have been 133 metal thefts in Bolton, with criminals targeting domestic and commercial properties before selling metal on to scrap dealers in and around Bolton.”

Under the new Scrap Metal Act, dealers and collectors must have undergone background checks to ensure they are fit to run a business, and can now only trade in cheques or bank transfers.

Collectors are required to display a licence in the window of their vehicle. Residents and businesses are urged not to give scrap metal to unlicensed collectors as it promotes criminality.

Unlicensed collectors can be reported to Bolton Council’s licensing unit, police on 101 or Crime-stoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.