Two Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary officers have been recognised for their work in targeting a criminal gang, responsible for a series of thefts from lorries totalling more than £500,000.

PS Paul Diamond and PC Alex Tack were presented with commendations at the Joint Operations Unit awards, following their exemplary work on Operation Tiber.

Operation Tiber was set up in 2021 by the Joint Operations Unit of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary and Thames Valley Police, in response to a rising number of haulage thefts at service stations across both force areas.

Criminals were targeting lorries by slashing the curtain sides or cutting locks to gain access to the trailers, before stealing the products inside and transferring them to their own cloned lorries while the unsuspecting drivers slept in their cabs.

As members of the Commercial Vehicle Unit, Paul and Alex work across both forces to target crime on roads involving lorries.

By using the national Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, Paul and Alex were able to detect the vehicles that criminals were using to carry out these thefts. Their research found that this was one organised criminal gang, responsible for a number of thefts totalling more than £500,000 between July and November 2022 across Hampshire and the Thames Valley.

Through ongoing investigations, the officers identified locations being used to conceal stolen cargo and house lorries used by the organised crime group.

The intelligence they gathered was passed to the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), who then identified 13 individuals from the Yorkshire and Humberside areas who were committing these offences, not only in the South East, but nationally. This resulted in Yorkshire and Humberside ROCU targeting the criminal gang.

Superintendent Colin Hudson, head of the joint Roads Policing Unit of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary and Thames Valley Police, said: “The depth and quality of the intelligence gleaned by Paul and Alex prompted the decision to establish a national working group to disrupt this criminal activity.

“Had it not been for their due diligence, dedication and teamwork, this offending would have been dealt with in isolation and a serious organised crime group would have continued to operate undetected by authorities.

“Their outstanding efforts has made a positive impact across the JOU and nationwide, leading to the detection and disruption of this criminal gang.”