Rome, 30 June 2015
(article taken from a Press Release by the Ministry of Internal Affairs)
Blue Amber is the name of one of the largest-ever operations against serious organised crime by police forces from throughout the EU.
The Action Day against metal thefts that took place in 16 European Union Member States was coordinated by Italy as Action Leader and the Criminal Police Headquarters with cooperation from the National Observatory for Copper Theft.
Operation Blue Amber therefore entailed involvement from the informal network against metal theft that was established during the six-month period of Italian EU Presidency further to a proposal by the Italian Criminal Police Headquarters.
Cross-checks were carried out in real time throughout the day using Europol databanks and latter set up a Coordination Center to which Member States sent their experts. Intelligence illustrated that stolen metal is often taken across borders and sold as scrap away from the original crime scene.
This crime often affects transport, communication and energy networks, causing considerable inconvenience and the costs related to replacing and repairing often exceed the value of the stolen goods.
European Police Forces also inspected scrap merchants and worksites along borders and railway lines.
A number of people suspected of recycling stolen goods were also checked.
Italian Police Forces took part in the Action Day throughout the country with 11,883 resources (divided into 4,750 squads), entailing controls on 31,473 people (34 of whom were arrested and 312 bailed in relation to 45 cases of theft and 830 other crimes or administrative offences), 2,664 companies responsible for metal recycling (so-called scrap merchants) and 26,080 vehicles. On the whole, 46 vehicles, 1,229,511kg of copper worth around € 5,787,308 and 44,701kg of other metals (iron/steel, aluminium, lead, etc.) to the value of around € 6,394 and an overall amount of around € 5,793,700 were seized.
The results from Operation Blue Amber in terms of focusing attention on metal thefts in Europe were as follows:
inspections were made regarding 11,546 scrap merchants, 119,863 people (319 of whom arrested and 434 charged) and 62,958 vehicles (236 of which were seized), entailing 1,717 criminal charges (163 cases of theft) and administrative offences and seizure of 1,367,062 kilograms of metal to the estimated value of 6,065,804 euros.
Additional Blue Amber operations are planned to combat and prevent other types of crimes in European Union Member States.