A pub was raided and six people were arrested as police launched a sweeping crackdown on the “Only Fools and Horses” trade in stolen goods.
About 20 officers swooped on the Three Legs on The Headrow in Leeds city centre yesterday (Feb 6) following intelligence that it was being used effectively as a marketplace to buy and sell illicit items.
Superintendent Pat Casserly, who led the operation, said there was evidence it was possible to go into the pub with a “shopping list” of items that could be stolen to order.
He added: “Yes, this is Yorkshire, yes we like a bargain, yes we don’t want to pay over the odds, but this isn’t Rodney Trotter and Only Fools and Horses having a casual laugh about things that fell off the back of a lorry – this is serious.
“This is crime that’s undermining people’s jobs in Leeds and it’s also perpetuating the misery of people having their homes burgled and we’re not having it.”
After executing a warrant, police searched the premises and punters, as well as using sniffer dogs to detect drugs.
Four women and two men – including at least one involved in running the pub – were arrested on suspicion of theft after officers seized a large number of suspect items including wallets, purses and handbags. Police were last night working with the council to close the pub down.
Supt Casserly said: “The venues where shoplifters are selling stolen gear have become almost a marketplace in themselves and we are aware that some shoplifters are actually being commissioned, tasked, with going out and stealing certain things.
“In effect it’s feasible for a person to go into a certain pub and give a shoplifter almost a shopping list and while that person sits at the bar having a drink that shoplifter is out stealing the things to order and then selling them at a knock-down price.”
Yesterday’s raid was part of Operation Viper – targeting some of West Yorkshire’s most prolific criminals. Police will be raiding properties across the county in a three-day blitz.