Metal theft has risen by 29.1 per cent in Cornwall, despite a force-wide push to clamp down on the crime.

Dubbed Op Tornado, it has seen police take part in a series of action days as the force tries to clamp down on metal theft across the region.

Launched in 2012 by Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Op Tornado was set up to reduce metal theft, which nationally is thought to cost the UK approximately £1 billion a year.

Figures have shown that  since Op Tornado launched, metal theft has decreased considerably in Devon, down by 316 crimes (a reduction of 70.7 per cent)

In Plymouth for the same time frame metal theft has dropped from 266 to 37, a reduction of almost 90%.

However in Cornwall it has increased by 25 crimes or 29.1 per cent.

Op Tornado makes it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme, constricting the market in which thieves can operate and making it more difficult to sell-on stolen goods.

Metal theft is increasing nationally due to the global rise in metal prices, resulting in, inconvenience and expense to thousands of people and in some cases causing risk to life. All affected industries are working together with the police to tackle the problem at a national level.

In Devon and Cornwall officers staged action days in Barnstaple, Newton Abbot and Redruth stopping in total 186 vehicles, seizing nine vehicles and visiting nine scrap metal dealers.

Detective Chief Inspector John Shuttleworth said: “Since Op Tornado began in 2012 the force has been working with legitimate metal dealers to ensure the rogue and criminal element of metal dealing and associated metal theft is reduced. The theft of metal causes a significant impact for victims - whether it is on an industrial scale from a commercial property or from a village primary school or church. As well as the financial impact and inconvenience caused victims and thieves are also left exposed to considerable dangers from live power lines.

“We are determined to keep up our police presence in this crime, disrupting thieves, taking action against offenders and identifying businesses who flout legislation.”