NEARLY 200 police officers made dawn raids across Stevenage on Tuesday morning as part of a massive investigation into the handling of stolen goods. Officers arrested 26 people as a result of a covert operation which has been going on since April and reco
NEARLY 200 police officers made dawn raids across Stevenage on Tuesday morning as part of a massive investigation into the handling of stolen goods.
Officers arrested 26 people as a result of a covert operation which has been going on since April and recovered a large amount of what is believed to be stolen property, cash and drugs.
The Comet was invited to watch the operation which began at 6am with a briefing in police headquarters in Welwyn GC.
Officers then divided into teams to target addresses across Stevenage.
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Our reporter and photographer accompanied a team, which included unarmed firearms officers, to Ely Close to arrest a man on suspicion of theft and supplying controlled drugs.
Officers rammed open the front door to gain entry and then stormed into the house.
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The unsuspecting man and his girlfriend were asleep with their baby in a cot in the same room.
After a relative came to collect the baby, both the man and his girlfriend were taken into custody by officers.
A neighbour who witnessed the raid said: "We've had loads of set-tos with him. I definitely won't be sorry to see him go."
Eastern area commander Chief Supt Gary Kitching said: "Offences such as burglary, bulk shoplifting and Class A drug use and supply make up a significant proportion of crime in Stevenage.
"Operations like this show that we will work tirelessly to ensure that a small number of prolific criminals are no longer able to plague the lives of residents and businesses."
DCI Jerry Tattersall, who ran Tuesday's operation, said: "We're very pleased with the way it's gone. We've recovered quite a lot of property that appears to be stolen and small quantities of drugs.
"This investigation sends out a strong message to anyone who is involved in the handling of stolen goods that we will do everything we can to pursue and arrest you.
"We want to make Stevenage and surrounding areas an unpleasant place for criminals to operate and these arrests should do just that. There is a proven correlation between acquisitive crime and Class A drug use and supply and as part of the operation we have been working closely with drug treatment agencies.
"Many items sold cheaply have been stolen in burglaries or robberies or from a shop. The real victim is the person who has had the goods taken from them."
The police vowed that Tuesday's arrests would not be the end of the operation.
Chief Supt Kitching added: "There are people out there who must be worried. Once the word of this gets out they will know we are coming for them.
"The community of Stevenage is going to be safe in the run up to Christmas and immediately after Christmas as well.