POLICE on the trail of travelling criminals have made seven arrests and seized 32 vehicles as they crack down on cross-border crime.
Operation Vanguard was launched at the end of March and has seen North Yorkshire Police officers patrolling the county’s main routes.
Officers have stopped and searched 14 “suspect” vehicles, uncovering stolen goods including £2,000 worth of toiletries believed to have been from Morrisons in Harrogate.
Chief Insp Nick Hunter, deputy head of North Yorkshire Police’s Specialist Operations Unit, said: “The message to criminals is clear: we are watching our borders, we are building up a picture, we know who is coming and going, when they are coming and going and what vehicles they are using.”
Officers say the operation has enabled them to gather valuable intelligence and put specialist resources in the right place at the right time.
“The operation has got off to a very positive start and we are already starting to make our presence felt on the roads of North Yorkshire and the City of York,” said Chief Insp Hunter.
“Importantly we have managed to gather some vital intelligence which will stand us in good stead as the operation progresses.
“In the first two weeks of the operation we have already seized a large number of vehicles and made arrests. That will continue until travelling criminals realise that if they come to North Yorkshire eventually they will get caught.”
Officers are patrolling the county’s borders day and night using automatic number plate recognition cameras, firearms units and specialist roads policing teams to deter travelling criminals and keep tabs on them.
On April 3 at 2pm, officers stopped a green Toyota Avensis on the A58 at Green Hammerton.
They searched the vehicle and found around £2,000-worth of toiletries in the boot. It is believed that the majority of the goods were stolen from Morrisons in Harrogate.
The five occupants of the vehicle, three men aged 18, 24 and 32, and two women aged 25 and 29, all from Leicester were arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft.
They have been released on police bail as enquiries continue.
Further arrests were made on April 5 when officers stop checked a silver Toyota Corolla on the A162 at Brotherton.
Searching the car, police found £1,200 in cash. The driver, a 35-year-old man from Sheffield was arrested on suspicion of money-laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
He has been released on police bail as enquires continue.
Finally, a 23-year-old man from Knaresborough has been charged with driving while disqualified and driving without insurance after officers stopped the Red Honda Accord he was driving on the A59 near Allerton Park.
He is due to appear at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court in May.