DRIVERS suspected of transporting stolen metal or being on the road illegally were targeted in a police operation involving over 80 officers.

Operation Alloy was a high profile crackdown which led to 377 vehicles being stopped by Greater Manchester Police. Fifteen vehicles were seized for not being covered by insurance, tax or because of the way they were being driven.

Two people were arrested on suspicion of theft, 22 stolen gas bottles were recovered and 243 traffic offence reports were issued.

The operation targeted road users suspected of travelling to and from scrap yards or using the road illegally.

Officers carried out 36 eye tests on the roadside but none tested failed. Using new legislation, drivers now face having their licence revoked immediately if they fail a roadside eye check and officers feel that road safety is compromised.

Operation Alloy was set up in 2011 in response to an increase in the theft of metal and in the last year it has helped reduce it by more than 60 per cent. It involves divisional and specialist operations officers as well partners from the utility, telecoms and transport networks.

Superintendent Craig Thompson said: “We have shown metal thieves just how serious we are in clamping down.

“We not only target scrap yards, but also those involved in transporting stolen metal on the road networks and are using new legislation regarding eye tests as an additional tool to disrupt drivers and ensure they are complying with the law.

“Metal theft continues to be an issue in Greater Manchester and the message to anybody committing metal theft is to stop. From opportunist thieves who steal small amounts of metal, to organised crime groups who run sophisticated operations on a much larger scale, it is only a matter of time before we catch you.”