The Lancashire Telegraph is reporting that a huge police operation with over 100 police officers investigating the theft of motor vehicles to be broken into parts has seen two scrap yards raided and 8 people arrested.
Teams of officers attended the premises of Tom Smith Commercials in Meadow Street, Great Harwood and another breakers yard in Blackwood Road, Stacksteads.
In a joint operation, West Yorkshire and Lancashire officers made a number of arrests and seized a vast amount of vehicle components. Officers from both forces executed warrants at the Great Harwood and Stacksteads premises suspected of being involved in the theft of motor vehicles from across the north of England.
Police said the two sites were identified as being potential locations for stolen vehicles to be taken to then broken up into component parts and sold on.
At 1pm yesterday around eight police vehicles, including a crime scene investigation van and a video van, were at the Great Harwood premises, which consist of a scrapyard, stables and a detached house. Contractors' vehicles could be seen at the premises loading vans on to low loaders.
West Yorkshire Police said they had traced vehicles stolen from Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield to Lancashire as part of their intelligence gathering. Specialist officers from both forces were conducting extensive searches of the sites resulting in the seizure of a huge number of nearly new vehicle engines, doors, vehicle panels and other parts, suspected of being from stolen vehicles. The intricacies of accurately identifying vehicle components and attributing them to stolen vehicles is now to be carried out by specialist police vehicle examiners.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire police said: "There has been a continuing trend of keyless vehicle thefts since 2010, with 478 Ford Transit vans being reported stolen between January 1, 2015 and December 11, 2015 across the Yorkshire and Humber region alone, with an estimated value in excess of £7.5m. The Ford Transit vans is the most stolen vehicle across the UK."
Police claimed that it was "a well organised, systematic and efficient process to deconstruct vehicles, categorise them and move them on for sale." Chief Superintendent Pat Casserly of West Yorkshire Police Protective Services Operations said: "The scale and organisation of the sites have been quite remarkable. Operations like the this demonstrate our ongoing commitment to tackling this issue. Whilst collectively these incidents result in high value crime, we must remember that each theft has very human consequences. These types of vehicles are often owned and utilised by small businesses and for some, the theft of a vehicle can result in the loss of contracts and future work.”
"Criminals often have the misconception that travelling across county boarders makes their crimes more difficult to detect and investigate. Whilst this can provide challenges to investigators, it by no means prevents officers dedicating themselves to locating those who commit offences, investigating their crimes and bringing them to justice."A 53-year-old man, 38-year-old man, 32-year-old woman, 30-year-old man, and 29-year-old woman, all from the Great Harwood and Blackburn areas, and a 50-year-old man and 45-year-old man from Bacup, have all been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit theft, handling stolen goods and money laundering. A 38-year-old man from Bradford has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit theft of motor vehicles.