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Hawk swoops to protect North Yorkshire from travelling criminals

More than 20 volunteers joined police officers on a rural crime operation which saw five people arrested and four vehicles seized.

Teams from Richmond Border Watch, Stokesley Watch and Thirsk Valewatch took to the roads alongside local Safer Neighbourhood officers and specialist police units across Hambleton and Richmondshire on Thursday 12 November.

Focusing on the northern A1, A66 and A19 corridors, and minor roads in between, Operation Hawk aimed to disrupt and deter travelling criminals, and resulted in 32 proactive vehicle stops, despite the bad weather.

Four people from the Luton area, aged 17, 17, 23 and 32 were arrested at 10.20pm (12 November) on suspicion of money laundering, after a BMW 5 series car was stopped on the A1 near Scotch Corner. The driver, one of the 17-year-olds, was also arrested on suspicion of driving without a licence and insurance. A quantity of cash and gift cards, as well as the vehicle itself, were seized. All four remain in custody at this time.

A 45-year-old man from Stockton-on-Tees was arrested after a Vauxhall Viva car was stopped on the B1264 near Yarm at about 5.30pm. He was charged the same day with driving while disqualified, no insurance and no MOT. He will appear at Northallerton Magistrates Court on 30 November 2015.

Two other vehicles were seized for no insurance during last night’s operation.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of Leyburn Police, said:

The support of Watch scheme volunteers on last night’s operation was invaluable, with 22 people giving up their own time to protect their communities by acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police.

North Yorkshire is the largest single county police force, with 6,000 miles of roads, and the safest place in England. However, the area borders seven other counties, including four with the highest crime rate per 1,000 population. Around 20% of all detected crime in North Yorkshire is committed by criminals travelling from neighbouring areas. Operation Hawk aims to track and disrupt those travelling criminals.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy, who leads Operation Hawk, said:

We launched Operation Hawk to send a clear message to travelling criminals – if you come to North Yorkshire to commit crime, we will catch you.

Our area is one of the safest places in the country, and we are determined to keep it that way – so we will keep up the tough stance shown by last night’s operation.

Rural communities can be reassured that these operations will continue until travelling criminals get the message that they are not welcome in North Yorkshire.

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