Palma.—Over the past month, the Guardia Civil have arrested 13 people for the theft of semi-precious metals and their subsequent sale to waste processing companies on the island.

A Guardia Civil statement said yesterday that its Nature Protection Unit (Seprona) had made the arrests after seizing 575 kilos of copper and 884 kilos of lead as part of its ongoing “Metal Man” operation.

Seprona had been making investigations into robberies of (copper-lined) cable used to power public street lighting, of telephone and electricity cables, giant bobbins of cables used on construction sites and at other electrical installations, and of various items made out of metal mysteriously disappearing from site storage units.

Investigators followed a trail of enquiry to a metal processing plant on the Can Valero industrial estate in Palma which dealt in material illicitly acquired during robberies around the island. Most of those arrested in operation “Metal Man” were of Bulgarian or Romanian origin. After raids on the culprits' homes, police found tools with which the theft of cables and other industrial material was carried out.

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