Derbyshire police has warned that boilers and heating pipes are 'prime targets' as it launches an operation to tackle metal thefts in the county.

Operation Calanthia, which will run until the end of the year, will include enforcement action against thieves and those distributing stolen metals.

Officers will also be identifying potentially vulnerable premises across the county and offering them crime prevention advice.

There will also be planned enforcement action at selected times and dates to target those involved in stealing and conveying metal in the first place.

The issue has been made worse as the increasing demand for metals has led to an increase in prices and, in turn, to more thefts of copper, lead, iron and steel.

Superintendent Debbie Mathews of the force's Operational Support department is leading the initiative. She said: "Theft of scrap metal is an increasing issue for us as a force and due to current market conditions it can be quite lucrative for thieves to try to profit from this area.

Central heating pipes and boilers are prime targets for theft, she said. "The aim of the operation is to make it as difficult as possible for metals to be stolen in the first place and also difficult for those who seek to trade in such stolen goods.

"We will be carrying out some co-ordinated activity targeting those involved in this crime and trying to raise awareness with scrap metal merchants and the public at large about what to look out for."

Popular metals that are being stolen in Derbyshire include copper, lead, iron, steel, aluminium and precious metals, including those from catalytic converters.

Typical locations for thefts include water works, hospitals, schools, houses, building sites, storage yards and depots, and builders' merchants.