Operation Stimtone: 900 London police tackle economic crime
The Metropolitan police is carrying out 300 operations in a day of action against gangs of fraudsters
THE METROPOLITAN POLICE has begun a one-day operation to tackle economic crime in London, assigning 900 officers to investigate fraud, money laundering and offences against businesses.
Work on Operation Stimtone began today at 8am with police tweeting their progress under the hashtag #bigwing. They are undertaking 300 operations, including issuing search warrants, inspecting pawn shops and carrying out covert operations against fraudsters.
By 10.45am, officers had made 45 arrests, seizing £146,000, 350 cannabis plants, 170 cocaine wraps and two replica firearms.
An hour earlier, the Met police tweeted a photo of a yacht (pictured) being lifted out of the water, confirming the boat had been "seized, dry-docked and will be searched" as part of a Stimtone money-laundering investigation.
"We want to show the community that flashy rich criminals are being brought to justice," said Commander Allan Gibson who says that economic crime cost businesses and the taxpayer "tens of millions of pounds each year".
"We're all victims of this type of crime. Either directly, as victims of theft or fraud, or indirectly, through higher prices in our shops, higher insurance premiums and taxes to cover the cost of what has been stolen," he said.
The offensive is part of the Met's Total War on Crime campaign launched in February to tackle gang crime, and is the largest day of action ever instigated against economic crime. The manpower behind the operation dwarfs the recent phone hacking investigation Operation Weeting, to which 45 police officers were assigned.
Admitting it was an "ambitious" project, Cdr Allan said he felt it was important police take "the profit out of crime", chasing down people who think they will not be traced.
"[We're] letting the criminals know we will pursue them to cover criminal gains when we arrest them and put them before the court," he said.
Last year police seized £15m in cash from criminals involved in economic theft, as well as obtaining court orders to retrieve £28m worth of stolen goods and to stop criminals hiding stolen assets worth over £61m.