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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 13:10 GMT
Police target crimes against elderly
An elite police squad set up to target thieves who prey on the elderly and vulnerable has led to an increase in the number of arrests.

Cleveland Police says factors such the age and confusion of many of the victims makes it difficult to catch offenders.

But the force has developed an innovative approach to tackling the problem.

It claims officers are using intelligence and crime analysis to target the movements of criminals.

We have increased the detection rate dramatically and we have no intention of letting up the pressure
Detective Inspector Colin Tansley

This has led to a rise in detections over the last six months from 3% to 27%.

Detective Inspector Colin Tansley, who heads the task force, said: "With the help of officers in the districts, we are continually building up a database on the crooks responsible for such crimes.

"There is no doubt that the people who commit these offences are vile, evil and callous.

"Everybody, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, has the right to be safe in their own homes.

"These individuals, who pose as council workmen, water board officials or use any excuse to get inside homes to ransack rooms and steal whatever they can lay their hands on, are nothing less than vultures."

Since Operation Strongbow was launched in June last year, 134 offences have been reported and 36 detected.

All officers in the force now carry photographs of most active criminals.

Mr Tansley said: "We have increased the detection rate dramatically and we have no intention of letting up the pressure."

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