Video: Police carry out a series of raids to catch suspected crime ring

A SUSPECTED crime ring thought to be responsible for a spate of recent burglaries in St Albans and Harpenden was infiltrated by police last week. In a series of raids, attended by the Herts Advertiser, police arrested five people at different addre

A SUSPECTED crime ring thought to be responsible for a spate of recent burglaries in St Albans and Harpenden was infiltrated by police last week.

In a series of raids, attended by the Herts Advertiser, police arrested five people at different addresses in Luton and executed search warrants of the properties.

The operation, which was carried out by officers from Herts' central area tactical team alongside officers from Beds Police, followed a phase of intelligence gathering on the suspects.

In a briefing at Hatfield Police Station prior to the raids, central area tactical team Inspector Nick Caveney explained that a high number of burglaries had taken place in the St Albans districts since September, involving items such as laptops, jewellery, cameras, Xboxes, car keys and foreign currency.

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Intelligence had linked the crimes to a ring operating in Luton and Insp Caveney showed his team profiles of each suspect before explaining the links between them. He went on to highlight any warning markers, such as violence, over their names.

Although the primary aim was to target those responsible for burglaries in the district, he told his team to be on the look out for anything else sinister, such as drugs.

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Following the briefing, the team set off in two police wagons and I followed the convoy to Luton with two Herts Police press officers.

The team, who were a force to be reckoned with clad in top-to-toe body armour and bandanas, were following in the footsteps of colleagues who had set out earlier in the morning to start making arrests.

Our first port of call was Luton police station where the team collected some of their Beds counterparts who were aware of the suspects on the target list.

The team then split in half and we followed one as they set off on their first raid of the day. They discreetly pulled up around the corner from their destination and, armed with a battering ram, they charged towards the address before dramatically smashing their way through the front door shouting 'Police.'

This aggressive tactic needs to be used in such circumstances to ensure that the suspects cannot flee or hide any items before they open the door to police.

After arresting their target suspect, a 34-year-old man, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary, a black Labrador sniffer dog was then sent into the house to locate any drugs and was clearly excited to be fulfilling his role.

Insp Caveney emerged from the house clutching a small dagger at one point during the search and explained that the suspect was sleeping with the item next to his bed.

A woman was also arrested at the address on suspicion of possessing a Class B drug.

She was later released with a caution but the 34-year-old man has been released on police bail to return to Hatfield police station on December 20.

After a long time spent searching the property, the team moved onto their next target - the home of a woman suspected of handling the stolen goods from the burglaries.

The tactical team took the same approach as at the first address but after battering down her door the officers found that she was not inside the property and nothing of a criminal nature was found. She is no longer being investigated and the damage was fixed.

In the other raids that took place during the day another 34-year-old man from Luton was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary and breach of bail, and he was police bailed to return to Hatfield police station on Monday.

A 21-year-old woman, also from Luton, was arrested on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy to burgle. She was initially released on police bail until Monday (Dec 21) but Beds Police later arrested her and took her into custody.

A 19-year-old man from Luton was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods and failure to appear at court. After then appearing at court he was released on bail.

Inspector Caveney said: "Hertfordshire does not have a significant burglary problem; however St Albans and Harpenden have recently suffered a number of burglaries, believed to have been committed by offenders from Bedfordshire, and this operation aimed to tackle these people directly and stop their criminal activity in our local area."

He added: "We are determined to keep our crime levels low. I hope that the arrests made show our commitment to tackling burglary and sends out a strong message to anyone tempted to come into the county to commit crime, that we will relentlessly pursue you week after week to protect Hertfordshire's borders.

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