CHESHIRE police have vowed to keep cracking down on metal thieves and those seeking to make profits from heritage crime.

The force is maintaining its focus on tackling such criminals as the value of metals remains high.

The commitment comes in the wake of the sentencing of Michael Coyle, 40, of Little Neston, who was sent to jail after attempting to sell a stolen war memorial plaque.

The £7,000 First World War plaque, which remains missing, contained the names of fallen soldiers during the conflict, and Coyle was jailed for nine weeks for handling stolen goods as a result.

Cheshire Constabulary’s assistant chief constable, Ruth Purdie, spearheaded the start of a national campaign to raise the awareness of heritage crime within communities earlier this year.

Speaking after Coyle’s sentencing, ACC Purdie said: “It is imperative we continue to raise the public awareness of the emerging problem of heritage crime – that is crimes such as this when a historical or religious landmark is targeted by criminals who steal or vandalise buildings or places of worship, or landmarks of significant local heritage and culture.

“The soaring value of metal during the economic downturn has meant that many places of worship have become targets for metal thieves out to make quick money with no acknowledgement or respect for the consequences on the community.

“I commend the integrity of those who report crimes such as this, and in this case of Michael Coyle, the community who come together to assist the police in the investigation to ensure Coyle was brought to justice and will now pay the price for his actions.”