Hampshire Police are asking the public for help with their amusingly named “Operation Drench”. This new Police operation, which is led by the priority crime team at Shirley CID, aims to solve a recent series of thefts in which large quantities of cigarettes have been stolen.
Since 21 November 2013, Police have recorded 26 crimes which are related to the cigarette thefts. These include break-ins at a number of newsagents and shops in Shirley, Bitterne, Eastleigh and Southampton. Most recently, convenience and Co-op stores have been targeted. The thieves have also stolen cars, vans and high-powered motorcycles to use in the cigarette thefts.
The thieves usually strike between 2.00am and 6.30am. Where motorcycles are used, there generally are two people on the bike, and they carry the stolen items in large bags.
Detectives are appealing to the public to alert them immediately if they see motorcycles with two people in the area of convenience stores. They also want immediate information from people who hear metal security shutters being forced or shop windows being broken.
Shirley Detective Constable Paddy Coughlin said:
“The big question, of course, is where are these cigarettes going? Have you been offered cheap UK branded cigarettes or do you know someone who has bought a quantity of cheap cigarettes? If so, the police need to know.”
Anyone with information to assist Operation Drench is asked to ring Shirley CID on 101.
Anyone who witnesses a break-in or spots any suspicious activity around newsagents or convenience stores should ring 999 immediately.