RESIDENTS living in the north of Dudley are being urged to listen out for metal thieves in the area, following a spate of lead thefts from roofs and windows.

Schools and homes have been targeted in the past month, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

A 23 year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of theft after £15,000 worth of air conditioning units and copper piping were stolen from a property.

He was questioned by officers and has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Neighbourhood Sergeant James Jones, said: "Since November we've seen 16 metal thefts across the area and virtually all relate to lead flashing.

"We've upped our patrols and are targeting known thieves who may operate across this part of the Dudley borough, but we also want people to keep their eyes peeled and their ears to the ground.

"Anyone stealing flashing from windows or a roof would be fairly exposed to people driving or walking by, and it is likely to be noisy for people inside.

"If you happen to hear a scratching or knocking noise then check it out."

Over the last year metal crime in the West Midlands has generally fallen by more than 60 per cent following a concerted effort by officers as part of Operation Steel and Operation Tornado.