SIX people were arrested and 172 scrap metal dealers visited in a day of action to tackle cable theft.
Operation Leopard is a national initiative by British Transport Police to target metal theft on railways.
The day of action came last Wednesday when eight seizures of large amounts of stolen metal were made and a firearm was recovered.
Officers from the North East, working closely with partners from Network Rail, the Environment Agency, BT Openreach and local police forces, checked 19 scrap metal dealers, carried out preventative patrols and visited known offenders, while cable theft awareness leaflets were distributed in Northumberland.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, who heads the Association of Chief Police Officers Metal Theft Working Group, said: “As we approach 2012 I can assure everyone that efforts to reduce metal theft and its impact will continue.
“Thieves and unscrupulous dealers will find the UK is not prepared to suffer any further and we will not hesitate to take action against anyone who is found to be involved in this form of criminality.”