POLICE and trading standards officers have smashed a big car clocking operation in the North-East.

Eight people were arrested after a series of raids saw 63 cars, which may have had more than 3.5 million miles removed from their odometers, seized at four addresses.

They included premises in Darlington, County Durham, where eight vehicles were seized and a man from the town arrested. He was later released on police bail.

The joint operation, carried out by police and trading standards chiefs, was launched after customers across North Yorkshire complained to consumer watchdogs about cars bought in Darlington and West Yorkshire.

Richard Flinton, of North Yorkshire trading standards, said: "We had a number of complaints from consumers who had been attracted by advertising and subsequently found the cars were clocked. We then put the combined operation together."

He confirmed that the Darlington man, who has not been named, was "involved in the sale of motor vehicles".

Officers believe that the 63 vehicles - which have a combined value of around £300,000 - could have had over 3.5 million miles wiped from their clock readings, dramatically increasing their values.

Some vehicles had as many as 100,000 miles taken off the odometer before being offered for sale to the public.

The cars seized were mainly family saloons and were for sale at prices ranging from £3,000 to £9,000. The majority were being offered for sale from a site in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Head of trading standards in North Yorkshire, Stuart Pudney, said: "This investigation suggests the clocking of cars on a massive scale.

"I hope that this will send out a message to everybody who deals in the sale of vehicles that we will not tolerate car clocking and will not hesitate to come down hard on anybody involved in this practice."

The joint operation was carried out by North and West Yorkshire trading standards teams, with West Yorkshire Police.