Police smash door in as crackdown launched on prolific criminals
A door was smashed in, stolen goods seized and arrests made as police warned prolific Shropshire criminals: "We will come for you."
This week, officers in the county are enforcing a crackdown on persistent offenders wanted for burglary, drugs offences, anti-social behaviour and other crimes that bring harm to communities. The campaign is aptly-named Operation Justice.
At one address in Hanwood, near Shrewsbury, police found a stolen moped in a garden. An officer bashed the front door down and two men inside were arrested.
To find out more about the force's week of action, the Shropshire Star linked up with West Mercia Police in Shrewsbury to attend a series of raids.
Inspector Mark Musgrove, leading the operation on Tuesday morning, briefed officers ahead of warrants for arrests of two offenders - a woman wanted for an alleged theft at a Co-op store in Shrewsbury and a man suspected of stealing from a shop in Minsterley.
A team of seven officers went out to Pool Rise, in Springfield, Shrewsbury, in search of the woman - a prolific thief. Concerned neighbours watched on from their windows as officers knocked the door and searched the grounds of the property. She was nowhere to be seen so evaded arrest... for now.
Next was a trip to Snailbeach in search of the Minsterley shoplifting suspect. Again, he wasn't in. But his dad was, and gave officers an address where he suspected his son to be.
"We might not have found him here, but we've had a positive contact," explained Inspector Musgrove. "It will just be a case of we might have to come back for them later or tomorrow."
An address in nearby Minsterley was scoured for the suspect, but again proved fruitless on this occasion.
It was looking like it might be one of those days, but another warrant for a persistent criminal who has been involved in drugs, violence and thefts, yielded success.
A plain clothes officer thumped loudly on the door in Rectory Gardens, Hanwood, trying to get the suspect to answer of his own accord. Meanwhile, colleagues searched the garden and found a 22-plate scooter. A vehicle registration check found that it had been stolen, giving officers grounds to force entry.
After six powerful wallops with a battering ram, the door swung open and officers piled in to make the arrests.
Inspector Musgrove said: "We've tried to arrest two or three persistent offenders today and have been to a multitude of addresses. We we're successful initially but we've been able to make enquiries to chase up on a couple of offenders. We've also made two arrests at this address here today.
"We have been targeting the most prolific and persistent offenders. First we had a preparation phase where we've been gathering the CCTV and evidence. In some cases an offender might be subject of investigations by several officers for different offences so it takes time to gather everything together.
"Then, we go out and make the arrests. These are cases where we are confident we can get the offender prosecuted at court."
He added: "We've seen a spike in shoplifting. With stores closed during Covid, there was not the level of offending. But now they are back open the shop thefts have gone back up.
"We have identified 50 people of interest this week; twenty of those are people who have failed to attend court and 30 who have committed low level crime. Each of those could be responsible for up to 90 or 100 offences.
"This is an opportunity for us to say to those people that if you do commit offences, we will come for you and you will be prosecuted."
Anyone who feels at risk or sees a crime in progress should contact 999. Alternatively use the online ‘Tell Us About’ form at westmercia.police.uk
Crimes can also be reported anonymously to the independent charity, Crimestoppers, by calling 0800 555 111 or by visiting crimestoppers-uk.org