POLICE officers from the Midhurst and Petworth area joined a cross county team stretching across Sussex and Surrey in a special one-day operation aimed at cracking down on rural crime.
It was the 25th special Operation Limestone initiative and involved some 35 officers from Sussex and Surrey.
But it was the first time the operation had taken place during the day and was mounted to combat the recent shift in crime patterns across the rural areas.
In charge of the Sussex Police side of the operation Sgt Chris Glasspool told the Observer: “We changed to a daytime operation to try and combat the current series of crime where the trend has moved to daylight offences, predominantly linked to scrap metal thefts and the burglary of houses.”
Operation Magpie is a cross-county police initiative already in existence to combat the rise in the number of house break-ins and Sgt Glasspool said the nighttime operation moved times in a big push against rural crime.
For the past two years the operation has taken place at night targeting an alarming rise in the theft of farm vehicles and machinery and garden shed break ins.
Before the operation, police officers across the two counties collated a wealth of information gathered from members of the public concentrating on vehicles which had been seen in suspicious circumstances across the area.
These were fed into a database and picked up by automatic number plate readers used by police officers at static camera points set up throughout the Midhurst and Petworth area on Tuesday.
“I’d estimate we stopped about half of the cars on the database and that was a real success for us,” said Sgt Glasspool.
Surrey Police also arrested a man wanted by Camberwell Green magistrates.
In addition police used the operation to raise awareness of farm watch, which is used by rural communities to combat crime.