POLICE are turning the tables on criminals targeting lorries in North Yorkshire.

So far this year 50 raids have been reported to police in the county, one driver was threatened with violence when he tried to stop thieves taking goods, and many others had cargo stolen. There have been 900 reports of thefts from lorries nationally in the same time period and last year across England and Wales £90m of goods were stolen from HGV's.

Criminals often working in gangs cut their way into the lorries and load the goods onto a waiting vehicle. They often have specific targets and a range of goods which are then sold on the black market, including alcohol and tobacco, electrical goods and vehicle parts.

Now North Yorkshire Police have launched a special operation to clamp down on gangs who slash the covers of curtain-sided vehicles and raid the contents. The thieves often hit at night when the driver is parked up.

Through Op Cargo police are working together with drivers, haulage bosses, service stations and the National Crime Intelligence Service to coordinate their campaign.

Inspector Dave Murray said: "Because of our location, a lot of heavy goods vehicles travel through North Yorkshire. While the vast majority do so safely, we know that there are criminal gangs who come into the area to target these vehicles.

"We’ve always taken haulage theft in North Yorkshire seriously but this is the first time we’ve worked in partnership with the National crime Intelligence Service and with businesses to focus on the problem.

"We’ll be using a range of tactics that we know are effective to prevent haulage crime, to reassure HGV drivers, to reassure the public and to disrupt and deter criminals from coming to North Yorkshire to commit crime."

The operation will focus on specific areas where drivers are vulnerable, such as service stations and laybys.