Illegal waste carriers and scrap metal dealers were the target of a week of action overseen by Kent Police’s Rural Task Force.

Sixteen scrap metal sites were visited by the team between Monday 19 and Sunday 25 April 2021, with businesses across Medway, Dartford and Thanet checked.

The undertaking was organised in support of a national policing campaign targeting catalytic converter thieves and the illegal trading of scrap metal.

It was also following on from the recent success of the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad who, in March, arrested six people on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters. Each of these individuals remain under investigation and no evidence of any new catalytic converter thefts were uncovered during the week of action.

In addition to the scrap metal sites being visited, 104 motorists, mostly waste carriers, were pulled over across the county.

The primary purpose of the stops was to ensure the transporters were abiding by the conditions of their licence, however additional stops were made against uninsured and untaxed cars.

These checks led to three waste carriers being fined a combined total of £1,100 for allegedly transporting waste without a licence. These fines were issued in Dartford, Swale and Tunbridge Wells.

Maidstone Borough Council, while working alongside the Rural Task Force, also seized two vehicles on Wednesday 21 April. These were a Ford Transit, which was said to have been illegally transporting green waste in Coxheath, and a Honda Civic which was stopped in Loose on suspicion of flytipping offences.

In addition to the checks on waste carriers, patrols also seized 18 vehicles belonging to members of the public due to suspicions they were untaxed, or the drivers were travelling with no licence or insurance. These seizures were made in locations that included Canterbury, Gravesend, Tunbridge Wells and Faversham.

Three people were also arrested in Whitstable Road, Faversham, at around 2.25pm on Sunday 25 April after a car was found transporting four large barrels of cooking oil. The oil is suspected to have been stolen from a business in Leeds, near Maidstone, and each suspect has since been released, pending further investigation.

A 25-year-old man was also arrested following an initial report that he had been seen attempting to enter a parked vehicle in Burnham Road, Dartford.

A man of no fixed address, has since been charged with criminal damage and has been released on bail to attend Medway Magistrates’ Court on Sunday 6 June.

Chief Inspector Craig West, from Kent Police, said: ‘This week of action tied in with our ongoing commitment to target individuals who are stealing catalytic converters, and also resulted in a number of motorists who posed a danger to the public having their cars seized.

‘Catalytic converter theft remains a national focus for all police forces, but it is really pleasing that no new evidence of catalytic converter theft was identified.

‘Combatting crime is about prevention as much as it is detection and, as this activity shows, we are working closely with a number of partner agencies to help make the county an unattractive place for people involved in this type of offending.

‘We will continue to take a proactive policing approach, and anyone involved in such offending can expect to be in full receipt of the most robust, and proportionate, enforcement action.’

By Ed

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