Europol says close to 300 arrests have been made as part of an operation to stem the growth in metal theft on the continent.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency headquartered at The Hague, Netherlands, has announced that a two-day operation that covered 20 European countries, has made 271 arrests, identified 146 cases of theft and checked 8,300 scrap metal dealers for accepting scrap metal without asking the proper questions.
In a statement, Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, says, "Metal theft is not a victimless crime—it can have a devastating impact on individuals, communities and businesses. The overall damage caused by metal theft far exceeds the value of the stolen metal itself and can severely affect key infrastructure and services such as railways, traffic controls and telecoms networks. This crime phenomenon can only be tackled through consistent cross-border law enforcement cooperation, and the use of Europol's information systems and analysis capabilities."
The operation was led by the Belgian Federal and Judicial Police and took place at the end of May 2014. The operation was the result of an initiative launched during the second conference on metal theft, which was held at Europol’s headquarters this past April. The operation is part of an ongoing EMPACT2 (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats) program that focuses on organized property crime, which Europol says is a current priority within the EU.