Police in Kent and Essex have seized thousands of pounds worth of lead and cable and arrested 14 people in a series of raids.
The operation was carried out last week by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate and was aimed at disrupting the illegal trade in stolen metal.
Arrests were made at addresses in Grays and Romford in Essex, Thanet, Herne Bay, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Tenterden in Kent and Canning Town in East London.
Most of the arrests were due to suspicion of handling stolen goods, although some were for supplying and possession of a Class A drug.
Kent and Essex Serious Crime directorate assistant chief constable Gary Beautridge said: “The action on both counties was the culmination of a six-month investigation to target those venues which are helping metal thieves to function.
“This type of organised criminality causes misery to many who are left without light and power or unable to travel because of the disruption this type of theft can cause.
“This action demonstrates that we do take the theft of metal seriously and we are putting significant resources into targeting those responsible and bringing them to justice for their crimes.”