Chinese dragon statue recovered in metal theft raids

Hundreds of memorial plaques from local cemeteries were seized at a dealers in south London.

A bronze Chinese dragon statue was among a haul of suspected stolen objects seized by police in a raid at a scrap metal firm, officers have said.

The £3,500 ornament was apparently stolen from a residential back garden.

A bronze statue of Christ and about 150 memorial plaques apparently taken from churches and crematoriums were among other items recovered.

Police raided the dealer's yard in Croydon, south-west London, earlier this week.

A series of scrap metal yards were targeted by Metropolitan Police officers across the capital on Monday and Tuesday resulting in 10 arrests and a number of stolen cars being recovered.

Police said they identified that about 40 plaques recovered from the yard in south-west London had been stolen from a Beckenham crematorium, each estimated to be worth between £50 and £100.

The distinctive bronze dragon statue, which was set in concrete and one of a pair, was traced to a couple who had reported it stolen from their home in Teddington, south-west London.

The owner of the yard and an employee have been charged in connection with the raid.

Four separate operations focusing on the illegal metal trade have been carried out by the Met in the past eight months with almost 500 scrap metal businesses inspected and searched.

The crackdown has led to 60 arrests, seen numerous stolen vehicles recovered and led to a significant number of scrap metal licences being revoked, the force said.

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