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Major police operation under way in West Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 11:48 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:48 12 September 2018

Officers carry out a fuel check on a vehicle during Operation Guardian Picture: Emily Prince

Officers carry out a fuel check on a vehicle during Operation Guardian Picture: Emily Prince

Archant

Police have launched a major operation against rural crime in West Norfolk.

Dubbed Operation Guardian, it sees a group of about 15 officers patrolling the main arteries linking King’s Lynn with Cambridgeshire and Lincoln, including the A47, A17 and A10.

The team will spend a shift on the busy roads looking out for travelling criminals.

Officers are equipped to check for unlawful usse of red diesel  Picture: Ian BurtOfficers are equipped to check for unlawful usse of red diesel Picture: Ian Burt

“Rural crime is a massive issue for us, criminals who hit us from Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire,” said Sgt Darryl Grief. “The aim is to disrupt them as much as possible.”

On the first day of Operation Guardian on Wednesday, September 12, PCs Jack Williamson and Kayleigh Marsh were tasked with keeping their eyes on the Lincolnshire border around Sutton Bridge.

A driver stopped by officers during Operation Guardian  picture: Ian BurtA driver stopped by officers during Operation Guardian picture: Ian Burt

Within a space of half an hour, a Mitsubishi truck and a Ford Transit van were dipped for potential red diesel but both were found to be clear.

PC Williamson said police assist HMRC with detecting illegal red diesel, a fuel which is used in farming vehicles that is taxed differently to normal diesel and can be considerably cheaper.

Criminals would steal the fluid from vehicles like tractors and combine harvesters to use on the road.

“Because this is a rural area with plant machinery, we check tanks to make sure they are not using red diesel, which is just diesel with red dye,” added PC Williamson.

Police were also looking out for trailer and caravan thefts, particularly Ifor Williams trailers which are commonly stolen.

One farmer who had been driving a 4x4 with an Ifor trailer was stopped by police in Walpole Cross Keys.

He said it was the second time in a year he had been pulled over, but added: “I’d rather I was stopped as it shows police are doing something about this.”

It is hoped Operation Guardian will take place up to three times a month, where officers will be stationed at various roads during a 10 hour shift.

PC Williamson said: “We have extra units and a focus on a single area without the distraction of other crimes and calls.

“This is what we do normally but we have more officers on it, 14 to 16, usually we have about half of that.

“This clears a day to focus on this, and it helps send the message to the local community.”

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