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Crackdown on burglary and theft in rural area north of Grantham is seeing results

Police have made significant in-roads in the fight against rural crime through an ongoing operation.

Operation Sahara is in response to concerns raised within rural communities that they were softer targets for burglary and theft.

It is currently operating in the smaller villages west of Long Bennington and is being run by Rushcliffe’s Reacher team of one sergeant and six constables, with assistance from Nottinghamshire Police colleagues in Newark and Sherwood.

Operation Reacher goes rural. (48546134)
Operation Reacher goes rural. (48546134)

The latest areas to feel the full weight of a dedicated police blitz over two days were Flintham, Syerston and Screveton.

Rushcliffe’s district commander, Inspector Craig Berry, said it had made a significant impact on the ability of travelling criminals to operate.

Insp Berry said: “This is but one phase of Operation Sahara, which was started in Rushcliffe but encroaches into Newark and Sherwood and into Leicestershire in the other direction.

“Once a month we do days of action in a different area targeting rural crime problems. We carry out vehicle stops, enforcement and gather intelligence.

“Reacher is a proactive team. The operation was launched at a time of a gradually emerging crime problem of theft and acquisitive crime within rural communities, particularly overnight.

“This included the theft of plant machinery, vehicles, particularly off-road ones, and power tools. Small businesses, farms and even sheds were being hit.

“In response to that, we developed our intelligence and carried out a lot of enforcement action last year – executing search warrants to recover stolen property and arresting a number of people.

“We dealt with that problem but kept a focus on burglary and theft in rural areas and periodically run these operations, taking the fight to rural areas where people told us they felt quite vulnerable.

“We’re there to show them that we doing our job, showing a presence and reassuring them.”

Chief to Reacher’s task is to disrupt the activities of the travelling criminal by stopping the vehicles that they use, whether they be stolen, on cloned plates, unroadworthy, or uninsured.

On day one of the latest action, two people were reported for summons to court for having no insurance, and one vehicle was seized for that offence.

One vehicle was reported for no road tax, one prohibition notice was issued for a vehicle defect, one driver is to be prosecuted for speeding and another for not being in proper control of their vehicle.

One vehicle was given advice on an insecure load and three vehicles were searched as ANPR cameras fitted to squad cars pinged them as having markers to be stopped when encountered because of some form of suspicious activity.

Thirty-one vehicles were stopped in total.

As a result of day two of the operation, three drivers will be prosecuted for having no insurance, two vehicles were seized, one driver is to be prosecuted for not being in proper control of their vehicle, two for driving while using a mobile phone, two for contravening red traffic lights. Seven vehicles were searched and 44 stopped in total.

Reacher has also been utilising Nottinghamshire Police’s eye-in-the-sky, its drone, for scoping areas and directing ground units in, as well as gathering intelligence, something that Insp Berry said had proved incredibly useful.

The drone also heat-seeking capabilities.

In one instance, a quad rider was seen carrying a child and an animal as passengers on a road.

“It is important vehicles used in criminality are taken off our roads,” said Insp Berry.

“The good news is that we are definitely seeing a downward trend in acquisitive crime in rural locations. Our roads policing operations are having a significant affect. It’s bearing fruit.

“Whenever we receive intelligence we will act on it, raid and make arrests. Where the problem goes, we will follow.

“We have had significant success in disrupting the criminals to the point that they are staying out of these areas and in some situations, not even travelling into Nottinghamshire.”

Further days of action are planned in rural areas for July and August.

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