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COP RAIDS HIT FESTIVE OFFENDERS; Dramatic raids tackle seasonal spike in burglaries.

Byline: Sam Dimmer NEWS REPORTER

POLICE stormed homes and businesses across Coventry as part of a Christmas crackdown on people who sell on stolen goods.

In a series of dramatic dawn raids yesterday officers searched locations across the city where there had been reports of stolen gear being hidden. They also teamed up with the city council's trading standards team to seize counterfeit cigarettes at two locations.

Sgt Lesley Meade, from the city's offender management team, who helped organise the raids, said the force was determined to tackle the seasonal spike in burglaries.

She said: "We do an awful lot of work around offender management and a lot advising victims, but we don't do an awful lot with people who handle stolen goods. We know that burglary tends to increase at this time of year and what we want to do is reduce that market for getting rid of stolen property."

One team started off in Hillfields following up on reports that a known associate of a burglar had been selling on stolen goods. After smashing in her front door officers conducting a painstaking search of the property but no stolen items were found. Another team then travelled to a shop in Stoke following a tip off.

Coventry City Council's trading standards officers joined the search of the property and found three bin bags of suspected counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco.

A shop staff member was spoken to and will be interviewed again at a later date. Sgt Meade said the impact day was a different way of trying to make life difficult for burglars in the city.

She added: "I used a story from the Coventry Telegraph as an example - I don't want to see a headline saying children have had their Christmas presents stolen.

"We do a lot of work with offender management. We know who are offenders are and we've got a fairly good idea of who is burgling what. We also give advice to victims too, advising them not to leave windows open, to leave lights on and not to make themselves a target.

"But the people who handle stolen goods are the ones who are making the most money and this operation is about stopping them."

One of the targets during the operation was businesses who sell on stolen property, or second hand shops who don't keep detailed records.

And as well as warning businesses that operate illegally she also urged people getting in the Christmas spirit to keep their presents securely stored.

"It's a seasonal trend," she said. "Burglars know that people are buying presents and they can be easy to sell on.

"Most are in their original boxes, sometimes with receipts.

We're doing our best to stop that sort of offending. If you are burgling homes or handling stolen goods you will be caught.

"And if anyone is offered something for sale at a price that is too good to be true, or has information around this sort of offending they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 23, 2012
Words:504
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