PICTURE GALLERY: Operation Crooked launched as Northamptonshire Police release images of criminals wanted for burglary and robbery

Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Chris Hillery launched Operation Crooked yesterday
Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Chris Hillery launched Operation Crooked yesterday

Northamptonshire Police has launched an operation targeting criminals wanted for burglary, robbery and vehicle break-ins.

As part of Operation Crooked, the force has released images of five men wanted in connection with several burglaries across the county, and officers are asking for the public’s help in finding the men.

Increased patrols and activity in key areas including Kettering and north-east and south-west Northampton, as well as the sharing of crime prevention advice to help people take action to reduce their risk of crime.

Superintendent Chris Hillery, who is leading the operation, said: “Op Crooked is all about being on the front foot in preventing serious acquisitive crime in Northamptonshire.

“These types of offences can cause a huge amount of harm and distress, so our work will focus on prevention from both sides, combining daily intelligence-led disruption and enforcement activity against offenders with providing simple but effective advice to help people reduce their risk of becoming a victim.

“Most offences happen as a result of insecurities, so something as simple as always locking external doors and windows is a really effective prevention tool.”

This means residents can expect to see an increased police presence with officers giving out advice and spotting insecurities (open windows and doors, and items left in cars).

“Officers will also be targeting offenders based on intelligence,” said Supt Hillery.

“So if we know a burglar lives in a particular location, then that individual should expect a police officer to knock on their door, even if they’re not wanted. But if we believe they are currently taking part in criminal activity then it’s right we should be knocking on their door and speaking about it.”

One way the public can help the force is by reporting people selling stolen items online or, for example, door-to-door.

“People sell stolen property and there are a number of ways of doing that,” said Supt Hillery.

“I’m very interested in people trying to sell property door to door, on social media and in other locations maybe pubs, clubs, supermarket car parks.

“Because that property has come from a victim of crime and it might seem like a really good deal but the only reason it is a good deal is because there’s someone willing to buy it.”

He added: “Ultimately what we’d look to do is try and identify the handler, return that property to the lawful owner.

“Also, once we’ve made the arrest, then try to make sure there’s some remuneration or recompense to the person who has bought it in good faith.

“But buying a £1,000 computer for £50 in the pub is not buying something in good faith. It might seem like a really good deal but there is a victim at the end of that.”

Crime prevention tips and advice will be delivered by neighbourhood policing teams and crime prevention officers, aided by partners including Northamptonshire Emergency Services Cadets and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.

It will also be shared online and on social media, along with live operational and arrest updates. Information will also be shared through community partnerships and key contacts.

“I want to reassure people that as a force we are here to listen, and to offer support and help,” said Supt Hillery.

“To criminals, my message is equally clear – if you’re involved in any form of burglary, robbery, vehicle crime or the handling of stolen goods, you’ll be hearing from us. Your family and friends will also hear from us, and your photograph will be shared so your face is known to the community.”

One of the things Supt Hillery wants the force to improve on is “completing the loop”, that is to say get back in touch with the people who have reported something to the police - whether that be to reassure them there’s nothing to worry about or to thank them for a useful piece of intelligence.

“It’s really important because if we want people to ring again they need to get that feedback.”

Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold is backing Operation Crooked.

“I welcome the publication of persons committing these crimes so that the public, local Neighbourhood Watch groups and others can help make their own communities safer and report to us those that are actively committing burglaries, and assist us in locating and arresting those responsible.

“I want to make sure, through the Chief Constable, that the Force is relentless in doing this and disrupting those that choose to behave in this way.”

Information about crime, suspicious activity or the suspected handling of stolen goods can be reported via 101, citing Op Crooked. You can remain anonymous if you wish. Information can also be reported free and in confidence to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.