A day of action aimed at targeting travelling criminals carrying out rural crime has been hailed as a success.
Lancashire Constabulary joined police forces from across England and Wales as part of Operation Checkpoint, a countrywide campaign focused on disrupting criminals who use road networks to offend in rural areas.
The operation ran throughout Thursday (November 8) into the early hours of Friday (November 9), with each force providing officers and specialist resources for their own areas. Supt Julian Platt, of Lancashire Police, said: “This operation has been aimed primarily at disrupting organised crime groups who operate between force areas committing acquisitive crime, potentially countrywide and predominantly in rural areas.
“We have carried out a number of stop/checks across the county targeting vehicles and trailers carrying plant and agricultural machinery, as well as other vehicles relating to police intelligence. We have also provided high visibility reassurance to members of the public and rural communities, with a particular focus on the theft of plant and agricultural equipment, hare coursing and organised crime links.
“Seventy-four per cent of Lancashire’s geographical area is classed as rural. We are keen to work with the residents living in these areas to clamp down on criminals wherever they are from, and wherever they are going. Rural and wildlife officers are working with Lancashire Tactical Operations officers to extend their reach across Lancashire and stop cross border criminals.”
Recent police intelligence has shown organised crime groups targeting semi-rural cash machines to commit offences. Criminals often carry out reconnaissance of targets, including paying unusual attention to CCTV, traffic and footfall. On occasion plant materials, such as JCB diggers, have been used to smash into buildings to remove ATMs.
During the day of action, Lancashire Police made several arrests and seizures. A 53-year-old man from Barnoldswick was arrested in Lancaster on suspicion of a burglary in Crooklands. He was later transferred to Cumbria Police custody.
A 41-year-old man from Manchester was arrested in Lancaster on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle and driving while disqualified. The vehicle he was driving was allegedly linked to a burglary investigation in Cheshire. He was later released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Warrants were executed in Leyland and Lostock Hall, with a number of suspected stolen quad bikes, mowers and trailers recovered. A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft and later released under investigation pending further enquiries.