Research had identified several popular places in the county, with most activity taking place at mid day.
A check site was set up from 10am on the A690 at West Rainton to intercept suspect vehicles.
Scrapyards in Durham and Sunderland were also visited to ensure appropriate regulations were being observed.
During the operation, there were two arrests for outstanding warrants, four vehicles seized as the driver had no insurance, and five drivers were served with immediate prohibition notices due to their vehicles having dangerous faults.
In addition, 18 fixed penalty notices were issued for a for a variety of offences.
The owners of the yards visited were invited to sign up to a “Good Practice” scheme, to confirm they will not buy metal or cable without proof of ownership.