A WEEK-LONG operation to combat rural crime has been hailed a success in Lancashire.
Codenamed Operation Firecrest, the initiative saw police stop checked 688 vehicles, seizing six of them and make 16 arrests for a variety of offences.
These offences included theft from rural buildings and poaching.
Almost £16,000 of property was recovered, more than 55 rural crime suspects were visited and handed warning letters. Officers also visited 22 scrap yards.
Police also made 161 crime prevention visits to farms and other rural properties.
Dozens of people were signed up as new members to rural watch schemes – ensuring that the fight against rural crime continued long after the week of targeted action.
Lancashire assistant chief constable Mark Bates said the results were encouraging both in terms of targeting offenders and providing reassurance to local rural communities.
"We made numerous arrests and seized a variety of vehicles so enquiries are still ongoing but I am confident that the operation has sent a clear message to people involved in rural crime that both police and communities will not tolerate this type of behaviour."
The special operation ran from 1-7 October.
Assistant chief constable Bates said he was tremendously encouraged by the support received from rural communities throughout the operation.
"They have readily taken on board crime prevention advice and seem very keen to join to local rural watch and farm watch schemes in a bid to help us combat crime in future."
He added: "We are not complacent. This is an on-going operation and our work to target and identify those involved in rural crime and bring them to justice will continue."
A vehicle check site in Carnforth saw three vehicles seized.
Two vehicles were found to have no insurance. The third was found to be running on red diesel.
Inspector Jim Edmonds said: "Crime is generally low in rural areas but criminals can try to take advantage of the remoteness of some communities, believing they may not be seen as they carry out their illegal activities."
Every rural area in Lancashire has a dedicated neighbourhood policing team, responsible for working with local communities to prevent and detect crime.
The police also work with partners like the National Farmers Union and Trading Standards to target criminals.
Inspector Edmonds added: “Rural communities have a vital role to play in helping us to prevent and detect crime.
"We run FarmWatch and RuralWatch schemes that allow us to send out alerts via text and email and we would encourage residents to sign up to these schemes.
"We also want people to ring in when they see something suspicious so that action can be taken quickly if a crime is being committed."
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