A CRACKDOWN on car crime has led to 40 arrests, and to several vehicles being removed from the roads.

Between Wednesday and Friday last week, Operation Molton was launched in the Easington District to highlight those who pose a danger on the area's roads.

The operation was a combined initiative and saw local detectives, community support officers and traffic police join forces with officials from the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency, and Customs and Excise.

As part of Durham Police's Streetsafe project, teams have worked across Horden, Blackhall and Peterlee in an effort to catch criminals and make the roads safer.

Over the three days of the latest operation, police and DVLA officials seized 31 untaxed vehicles, which face being crushed if the owners do not pay the outstanding road tax, recovery charge and storage fees within a set time.

A further 13 uninsured vehicles and two abandoned cars were seized and six cases of red diesel - which is taxed at a lower rate and meant for use only by industrial and farm vehicles - discovered.

The operation also resulted in five arrests for driving while disqualified, two for aggravated vehicle-taking, two for drink-driving and one for failing to appear at court.

Three vehicles suspected of being stolen were also seized, including a 1999 registered Honda Fireblade motorbike.

The bike was found at an address in Old Shotton and is worth an estimated £3,000 to £3,500.

"The operation deliberately targeted areas which have been suffering badly from various types of vehicle crime," said Detective Inspector Eric Malkin. "The response from the public has been excellent."

He added: "Law-abiding people in Blackhall, Peterlee and Horden know only too well the problems caused by those using untaxed and uninsured vehicles.

"With all the agencies acting together we have sent a strong message to those tempted to get involved in car crime in this area.''