Police make arrests in town centre crime crackdowns

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New Milton railway station
Some of the items seized during the crackdown in New Milton (Photo: Hampshire police)

TWO men found with 100 skeleton keys and bolt croppers at New Milton railway station were among arrests in crime crackdowns in the town and Christchurch.

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Officers from Hampshire and Dorset police, along with British Transport Police, patrolled the areas last Wednesday as part of the ongoing Operation Swift which also targets criminal activity in the towns.

The pair had boarded a train at Pokesdown and failed to produce tickets when requested by officers.

They were searched after getting off at New Milton station, and officers found the master keys for bike padlocks, mini bolt croppers and a screwdriver in their possession. They also had a bag of white powder and a bike light.

One of the pair, a 27-year-old man from Bognor Regis, was arrested for going equipped for burglary, having a knife in a public place and possessing a class A controlled drug. Following questioning, he was released under investigation pending further enquiries.

The other man, a 27-year-old from Wolverhampton, was arrested for going equipped for theft and handling stolen goods but later released without charge after investigation.

However, he was found to be wanted on a European arrest warrant so was detained and handed over to the appropriate authority.

In Christchurch, officers caught a man trying to steal about £600 of beauty products from Boots in Saxon Square. They were seized in the store and the man was asked to leave the area.

New Milton railway station
A would-be shoplifter was caught with this £600 haul of beauty products (Photo: Dorset Police)

Two teenage boys in New Milton were found in possession of cannabis, which was seized from them, and they were due to be interviewed later.

Officers arrested a moped rider in the town after he tested positive for cannabis, and his bike was also seized as it was found to be uninsured. The 22-year-old man was later released under investigation.

A youth suspected to have been drug dealing earlier in the day was found later and arrested for possession of cannabis with intent to supply after a quantity of the class B drug was found on him.

Following a search of his home, more cannabis with an estimated value of just under £1,000 was discovered. He was de-arrested to be interviewed later.

Insp. Mike Minnock of Hampshire Police said after the crackdown: “This was a really successful joint operation and that we regularly undertake in New Milton and Christchurch with our colleagues from Dorset and the British Transport Police.

“As a local police team, we are aware criminals do not recognise borders and often utilise transport networks to operate undetected. By working in partnership we can reduce these opportunities and protect our communities.

“It’s really important we work together to combat crime in the town centre, being visible and using our powers like stop and search means we can make New Milton safer and it sends a message to those intent on coming here to commit crime that you’re not welcome.”

A Dorset Police spokesperson added: “This is a regular and proactive intelligence-led operation. We would like to reassure members of the public that we are actively targeting alleged prolific shoplifters and offenders.”

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