A police crackdown called “Operation Basin” has made a big impact on rural crime in the Ribble Valley.
Crooks who tour the lanes and byways looking for loot have been subjected to spot-checks and identified by automatic number plate recognition.
The six-week operation has been a joint effort involving Lancashire Constabulary, the Forestry Commission, the Environment Agency and the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association, which represents angling interests in the Ribble, Hodder and Calder catchment areas.
Inspector Graham Lister, of Ribble Valley police, said “We used a mixture of traditional policing methods and a high-tech approach with ANPR technology which helps to track vehicles used by known rural crime offenders.
“Our aim was to arrest those who came into the Ribble Valley to commit crime or at the very least disrupt their activities by seizing the vehicles they used.
“I am pleased with the support and comments of our partners in this operation.”
Sgt Dave Simpson, who co-ordinated the operation, said: “While the operation has only been running for six weeks we have had some really great results and as a result have seen rural crime reduce.
“The results include the arrest of a man suspected of stealing a Land Rover along with a further seven people who were arrested for offences ranging from the theft of eggs to going equipped to steal.
David Hinks, chair of the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association, added: “We have been out on multi-agency patrols with the police to support their efforts to combat rural crime and poaching and have been impressed with results of the operation.
“On one occasion we saw first-hand what powers the police have to disrupt suspected rural crime offenders.
“They stopped one target of the operation and they were able to search and seize his vehicle immediately, as the suspect did not have any vehicle insurance.”
Police praised the vigilance of the public after a gang of five thieves admitted targeting the Ribble Valley to steal copper.
A resident in Ribchester spotted one of their vehicles and took down the number.
Sgt Simpson said: “The public can act as our eyes and ears in situations like this, and it’s fantastic when it gets a result. We always appreciate help from the public, and treat all the information we receive in confidence.”
Anyone with information can contact police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or to report a crime in progress dial 999.