Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 12:14 UK

Stolen metal find 'biggest in UK'

Scrap valued at 700,000 has been recovered in what police have hailed as Britain's biggest find of suspected stolen metal.

Among the haul found during a search of the yard at New Halden Metals, Cheadle, Staffordshire, was 200 tonnes of rail track, along with beer kegs and cables.

A 43-year-old man who was questioned on suspicion of theft and of handling stolen goods was released on bail.

Police said the amount of metal seized could rise after further checks.

Pc Dave Stubbs, of Staffordshire Police, said officers came across the "huge haul of property" after visiting the scrap yard on Wednesday.

Officers searched the yard with British Transport Police (BTP) as part of Operation Amalgam until late on Thursday night.

Chief Inspector Simon Tweats, of Staffordshire Police, said: "Recovering stolen metal is an ongoing goal for the team.

"We have recovered a significant amount of stolen property, and efforts will now be made to reunite the property with its owners.

"Metal theft is an international problem with local consequences and Operation Amalgam is determined to address local issues by targeting those involved in metal theft - including people who receive stolen goods."

'Theft problem'

Det Supt Tony Nugent, from the BTP Organised Crime Unit, who led the operation, said: "With the high price of metals on world commodity markets, metal and cable theft has become a significant problem for the rail industry, utilities and telecommunications providers.

"On the railways, theft of cable and other metals causes massive disruption to services. Thieves are risking their lives as well as prison.

"Only this month a man from Stockport was jailed for three years.

"This has been a major seizure and scrap dealers need to be aware that police forces across the country are co-operating in a crackdown on metal theft."

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