Page last updated at 08:04 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Police 'lockdown' to stop raids

Police checkpoint
The operation will continue in the run-up to Christmas

Police are stopping and checking vehicles travelling into Lancashire from neighbouring counties in an operation targeting robberies.

The first in a series of "lockdowns" is in operation to stop criminals travelling from other areas.

Officers are stopping vehicles at points bordering Merseyside and Greater Manchester throughout Tuesday.

Lancashire police said the number of robberies usually rises just before Christmas, especially on cash vans.

Officers will also be handing out information to drivers to explain the operation and how they can help prevent crime.

Fast cars

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: "We have an excellent working relationship with our colleagues in Merseyside Police and Greater Manchester Police.

"However, many of our armed robberies are carried out by criminals based in Greater Manchester and Merseyside and our message to them is simple: if you want to come to Lancashire to commit robberies and burglaries and to steal high powered vehicles, don't bother because we will catch you."

Police said the theft of high-performance cars is linked to cash in transit robberies because they are often used by the gangs carrying out the raids.

Drivers have also been warned to be on their guard after a number of thefts of car keys by the "hook and cane" method through letterboxes or windows.

Operation Vault involves firearms officers, motorway units, dog patrols and the air support unit, the force said.

Covert surveillance and CCTV was also being used to monitor cash collections and deliveries.

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