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Police recover £100,000 haul of stolen goods in targeted operation

By Marion Brennan | Wolverhampton | Crime | Published:

Hundreds of stolen goods have been seized and returned to their owners following an ongoing police operation.

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Mobile phones, laptops, jewellery and power tools were part of a £100,000 haul of items recovered in Wolverhampton in just over 18 months.

More than 400 items were recaptured across the city as a result of Operation Magpie, a dedicated police initiative to trace and return stolen goods.

Most of the property – around 75 per cent – has been returned to its owners by using serial numbers and public viewing events. Those caught in possession of stolen items have been charged and taken to court.

Det Const Gary Thompson has co-ordinated the operation in Wolverhampton since April 2015, building up close working relationships with businesses to help in intelligence gathering.

He shares details of stolen goods which could be offered for sale while shops and retailers flag up any concerns about property they have been offered for sale.

Officers also monitor online auctions and classified ad sites to identify any stolen items.

Amongst the goods recovered were a haul of more than 100 items including lawnmowers, power tools and fishing tackle swiped during raids at two properties in Gordon Place, Millfields, and Prince Charles Road, Bradley, in August 2015.

Robert Ashfield and Daniel Rowton, who worked together, were both charged and admitted offences of handling stolen goods at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

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Ashfield, aged 48, of Gordon Place, was given a 10-month jail term, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work.

Rowton, 21, of Prince Charles Road, received a five-month suspended prison term and told to complete 80 hours of unpaid work.

West Midlands Police runs Operation Magpie teams across the region but the success of the initiative in Wolverhampton has now seen it recognised as good practice by other police forces.

Dc Thompson said: "We have had some real success in managing to track down stolen property and then return it to the rightful owner.

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"These are expensive goods which can cost hundreds of pounds to replace and can sometimes be items which have real sentimental value such as jewellery.

"Developing a strong link with businesses in the area has been a massive benefit in helping us to tackle the issue.

"I have even been approached by another force to advise them on setting up their own version of Operation Magpie and they spent time in Wolverhampton seeing how it works."

DC Thompson added: "We actively target handlers of stolen goods to break the chain of burglaries and robberies. Thieves commit such crimes if there are people out there who are happy to receive stolen property, some of which is the sold on.

"We would encourage people to make sure their property is secure and also registered on the Immobilise Property Register. This can help identify items which are stolen and ensure they can be returned once recovered."

Updates around Operation Magpie are regularly provided through the @WolvesCID twitter account using #opmagpie.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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