Arrests in crackdown on rural crime

Police in the north west of England have seized over £50,000 of cash and stolen property, including power tools, trailers, quad bikes and motorcycles during a crackdown on rural crime.

The week-long initiative – codenamed Operation Firecrest – was carried out by Lancashire Police force.

More than 20 people were arrested in connection with offences of hare coursing, burglary, money laundering, poaching, theft and handling stolen goods.

The operation, which ran between Monday 19 September and Friday 23 September, also uncovered a significant fuel laundering plant in Morecambe.

More than 30 rural crime suspects were visited and handed warning letters and officers visited over 20 scrap yards. Over 200 vehicles were stopped and three people were arrested for road traffic offences.

Superintendent 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,” said Supt Spedding.

Action during Operation Firecrest included additional patrols in rural areas; visits to farms and rural businesses to offer crime prevention advice and attendance at auction markets.

Specialist wildlife officers and representatives from the Environment Agency, United Utilities and other agencies carried out anti-poaching patrols and warrants.

Multi-agency roadside checks took place throughout the week to identify travelling criminals and to deter the theft of livestock and plant equipment.

Farmers, landowners and gamekeepers were 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.

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