METAL thieves and scrap dealers were under the watchful eye of police in and around York as part of a massive national operation.

A week-long operation was launched yesterday and saw officers from North Yorkshire Police team up with colleagues from the UK Border Force, the Border Agency, Customs, and the Environment Agency, among others, to crack down on the illegal sale of scrap metal.

New legislation was brought into force on Monday regarding the cashless payment of scrap metal. The new law bans cash transactions for scrap metal, making illegal sales harder.

Action was coordinated between a number of police forces.

In North Yorkshire, officers took to the roads on the lookout for vehicles known to police which are used for dealing scrap metal.

Police and representatives from partner agencies also visited scapyards across the county including Horwell Brothers Ltd in Foss Islands in York and Parkers, on the A64, near Stockton-on-the-Forest, which both said they supported police operations of this kind.

At Horwell’s scrapyard officers found evidence of incorrect records and well as evidence of asbestos at the site, police told The Press. They were issued with a number of warnings from the Environment Agency and failure to comply could result in a fine or prosecution.

Owner Neil Horwell said he co-operated fully with the several-yearly checks conducted by police and said he welcomed the new legislation.

At Parkers, officers issued a number of warnings regarding waste management and asbestos. The site sublets a number of offices and Minster Autos received warnings over vehicles they have on the site.

Warnings were also issued to a waste management site at Hessay.

PCSOs also visited repeat victims of metal theft to give crime prevention advice, including information on how to get their catalytic converters marked.

PC Steve Skeoch, who helped head up yesterday’s operation in North Yorkshire, called it a “very successful day”.

He said: “This is not about hitting business with a big stick – rather working with them to ensure they are operating within the law.”