police in West Yorkshire have launched a sweeping crackdown on the Only Fools and Horses-style trade in stolen goods.
Six people were arrested at the Three Legs pub in Leeds city centre yesterday in the first of three days of raids on premises suspected of being used to deal illicit items.
Superintendent Pat Casserly, who led the operation, said there was evidence that it was possible to go into the pub with a “shopping list” of items that could be stolen to order.
In a reference to popular sitcom the popular sitcom, which followed the misadventures of wheeler dealer brothers Del Boy and Rodney Trotter, he added: “Yes, this is Yorkshire, yes we like a bargain, yes we don’t want to pay over the odds, but this isn’t Rodney Trotter and Only Fools and Horses having a casual laugh about things that fell off the back of a lorry – this is serious.
“This is crime that’s undermining people’s jobs in Leeds and it’s also perpetuating the misery of people having their homes burgled and we’re not having it.”
About 20 officers executed the warrant at the Three Legs, on The Headrow, after police received intelligence that it was effectively being used as a marketplace for thieves.
Four men and two women – including at least one involved in running the pub – were arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods after police recovered a large quantity of suspect items.
The raid was one of several due to take place during a three-day initiative that is part of a wider crackdown on prolific criminals called Operation Viper.
Supt Casserly added: “The venues where shoplifters are selling stolen gear have become almost a marketplace in themselves and we are aware that some shoplifters are actually being commissioned, tasked with going out and stealing certain things.
“In effect it’s feasible for a person to go into a certain pub and give a shoplifter almost a shopping list and while that person sits at the bar having a drink that shoplifter is out stealing the things to order and then selling them at a knock-down price.
“People need to be aware that handling stolen goods is a more serious offence than theft and that’s why it attracts greater penalties than theft. Without people handling stolen goods and buying stolen things from thieves we wouldn’t have the thieves.”
Meanwhile two people have been arrested in Goole in connection with money-laundering.
Humberside Police said a man and a woman had been arrested and “numerous warrants” had been executed. Locals said police activity was concentrated on the Oasis nightclub, formerly the Dockers Club, off Victoria Street in Goole town centre.