Police target battery thieves
British Transport Police installed a dedicated team of investigators with analytical and research support and all available specialist assets as required in what was named ‘Operation Amelia’.
Lead acid battery theft has been going on for years as thieves seek to profit from the value of lead contained within the batteries.
Operation Amelia was a response to this national battery theft problem and was in support of the UK waste lead battery industry who quote estimated losses of £4 million a year through criminal activity. The investigation looked at four years of criminality involving four offenders residing from the same travelling community address in Gloucestershire. The arrest phase on the 17th July 2013 utilised 163 Police officers from three separate police forces and police forces throughout the country shared information in support of this investigation.
Four individuals were arrested and charged on 17 July 2013 and subsequently, on 4 March 2014 all four pleaded guilty to Fraudulent Trading in relation to waste batteries over several years. They are awaiting sentencing which is scheduled for 25th April 2014.
370 companies were affected by this Criminal Group with an evidenced loss to industry of over £200,000 (although police believe the figure to be a much higher amount).
This group used their own trading names, sometimes liveried vehicles with uniforms and logos linked to their trading names. They used consignment paperwork, were confident and sophisticated in their approach and sometimes purported to be from or acting on behalf of the contracted collector. They would establish a point of contact within a company or franchise and give an appearance of legitimacy. This would exploit any weakness in company procedure with respect to the retention and movement of lead waste batteries.