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Cops' blitz on thieves; CRIME: Police putting the squeeze on 'fences'.

Byline: Mark Cowan

SCORES of people have been arrested and thousands of pounds of stolen property recovered in a blitz on the handlers of stolen goods bringing misery to families across Birmingham.

Among the property recovered in swoops was pounds 100,000 worth of laptops, pounds 200,000 of stolen vehicle parts and a luxury tracked down minutes after it had been stolen and sold on.

Police chiefs said they wanted to make the 'fences' plying their black market trade at the expense of law-abiding families as hated as drink drivers.

And senior officers threatened to use Proceeds of Crime legislation to strip them of their own homes, cars and possessions and leave them with nothing if they have profited from crime.

Supt Tim Godwin, heading the war against thieves and their middle men, said: "If we arrest someone for selling a stolen mobile we will dig deeper and request their assets are seized.

"That might mean their car, their home, everything."

Police launched the first wave of Operation Purloin, a city-wide blitz on the handlers who fuel a seasonal spike in winter break-ins and robberies, in October.

Officers across the city paid early morning visits to known burglars and a series of warrants yielded nearly pounds 500,000 worth of stolen goods.

Alongside the seizures, officers also gathered a wealth of information linked to planned burglaries and robberies.

Detectives are now sifting through new information about the names of handlers, car thieves and burglars.

Supt Godwin said he wanted the public tempted by a bargain to stop and think about the human cost of crime.

"If you're sitting in a pub having a pint and someone offers you a phone for pounds 15, human nature says it's tempting," he said. "But somewhere a schoolboy or girl, a student, someone's brother, sister, son or daughter may have been robbed and left physically or emotionally scarred for the sake of a phone."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 5, 2009
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