ACTION PACKED; Four arrests in one night for crew.
TWO men believed to have stolen pounds 10,000 of designer clothes from a shop in Yarm were arrested following a police pursuit through two counties.
They were among a string of suspects taken off the streets within hours of each other during Cleveland Police helicopter crew's "most successful night so far".
On the same night, earlier this week, officers were also involved in catching a suspected car thief and two nuisance bikers.
The action-packed shouts coincide with the Gazette series, Copter Cops, which ran all this week to mark the force's new helicopter.
It included dramatic on-board footage, which can still be viewed at gazettelive.co.uk Inspector Simon Wilkinson, head of Cleveland Police's Air Operations Unit, said: "We classed it as our most successful night in terms of arrests and the impact on crime." In the early hours of Tuesday morning, crews in the new Eurocopter EC135 helped arrest two men from Merseyside after pounds 10,000 gear was nicked from The House clothes shop in Yarm.
CCTV operators spotted a car acting suspiciously outside. But it made off before officers could get to the scene.
They were chased by the police 'copter as they fled down the A19 where North Yorkshire cop cars joined the pursuit.
The car was stopped just outside Stokesley, and two men, aged 29 and 37, were arrested and bailed on suspicion of burglary.
Investigating detective DS Kenny Clark praised the role of the 'copter cops, saying: "The car may have gone undetected without the swift actions of the helicopter." The air crew got the shout shortly after helping bring another car chase to an end.
They had been following an allegedly stolen Fiat Brava, whose driver led police on a white-knuckle chase around Redcar, Guisborough, Skelton and New Marske.
The driver was arrested and charged with eight offences including aggravated taking without consent.
The same night, the helicopter followed two off-road bikers who sped away from police near Eston. One of the motorbikes was believed to be stolen and an arrest was made.
Inspector Kawal Singh, who polices the South Bank, Grangetown and Eston areas, said: "The operation showed excellent teamwork. Let this be a warning to people."
Log on to our website to see a video of the copter cops at work
SUCCESSFUL NIGHT: Inspector Simon Wilkinson with the aircraft, left, which has made a big difference to police work Picture by IAN McINTYRE