MORE than 40 people have been arrested and £7,000 worth of goods recovered in a police crackdown.

Operation Darc, aimed at Detecting house burglaries, Arresting offenders, Reducing crime and promoting Crime prevention advice, was launched in the Easington division at the end of October.

In the two months to the end of December, traditionally a time when criminals take advantage of the dark nights, police arrested 42 people for alleged offences.

Half have so far been charged, with the remainder on police bail while inquiries continue.

The suspects range from late teens to early 40s, and all are from the east Durham area.

Most of those who are repeat offenders are accused of burglary, handling stolen goods or deception.

During the operation, eight search warrants were executed and stolen goods found at six of the addresses.

The goods recovered included DVD players and discs, video tapes and recorders, CDs and Sony PlayStations.

As part of the operation's crime prevention strand, staff from Easington police's community safety department made presentations at different venues and advised elderly people in Seaham and Murton on security and personal safety.

The Nominated Neighbour scheme, encouraging pensioners to refer suspicious callers to a neighbour, family member or nearby friend, was also launched.

Particular attention was given to Thornley, where several elderly people had been victims of bogus officials or other distraction burglaries.

Patrols by uniformed officers were also stepped up in areas identified as crime hotspots, while Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators carried out crime prevention leaflet drops.

Detective Inspector Sue Knaggs said: "Operation Darc is put in place every year, partly to address local concerns and also to put the pressure on local criminals.

"It sends out a clear message that we know who they are and we will be looking for them."