A WEEK-long operation to combat rural crime in Lancashire has been hailed a major success.
Police seized over £50,000 of cash and stolen property – including power tools, trailers, quad bikes and motorcycles – during the crackdown, which was codenamed Operation Firecrest.
A total of 21 people were arrested in connection with offences of hare coursing, burglary, money laundering, poaching, theft and handling stolen goods.
The operation also uncovered a significant plant in Morecambe “laundering” fuel, one of the most commonly stolen rural commodities.
More than 30 rural crime suspects were visited and handed warning letters and officers visited over 20 scrapyards. More than 200 vehicles were stopped and three people were arrested for road traffic offences.
Despite the success, police are warning that the fight against rural crime will continue.
Supt Richard Spedding said: “Operation Firecrest has been hugely successful and I am delighted with the response we’ve had from both farmers and rural residents.
“I hope it has sent a clear message to people involved in rural crime that both police and communities will not tolerate this type of behaviour and will work together to identify those involved and bring them to justice.
“We will continue to focus our activities on those criminals who persistently target rural areas, so that we can reduce even further the number of victims affected by these crimes.”
Farmers, landowners and gamekeepers are encouraged to work with the police to help identify, disrupt and deter criminals targeting the Lancashire countryside through initiatives like Farm Watch and Rural Watch.
l Anybody who would like to speak to an officer to discuss concerns about rural crime or report suspicious activity that they have seen and not yet reported, should contact local police on 0845 1 25 35 45.