POLICE arrested 18 people during a three-day operation in Thurrock which saw more than 300 vehicles stopped and reported crime in the borough tumble.

Five men from East London were arrested on suspicion of stealing fuel from vehicles at a transport depot on the Manorway and four others – three from East London and one from Brentwood – were nicked on suspicion of going equipped to steal from vehicles in Crammavill Street, Grays.

The other arrests were for going equipped for theft and failing to stop for police, theft, possession of drugs, possession of an offensive weapon and assault.

The operation, codenamed Talon and comprising a number of different specialist police units, was carried out between Tuesday and Thursday last week and made use of automatic number plate recognition technology to identify suspicious drivers or vehicles on main roads in the borough.

There were additional patrols and checks in burglary hotspots, with police sifting through second-hand shops for stolen property while the homes of known offenders were also visited.

Metropolitan Police officers carried out a similar operation on Wednesday to provide cross-border checks along the Thurrock and Havering district boundaries. Police have said before that Thurrock is prone to cross border crime.

Supt Adrian Coombs, who led the operation, pictured, said: “This operation brings together specialist units and local officers working together and with local agencies to arrest and deter criminals.

“The result was that 18 arrests were made and far fewer crimes were reported in the Thurrock area, especially burglaries. Five break-ins were reported during the course of the three-day operation compared to 16 in the same period in 2012.

“These operations have been well received by members of the public and we have had plenty of positive feedback in the areas where we have carried out these operations.

“Many more Operation Talon days will be held across the county on a regular basis.”

Officers from the Essex Police Commercial Vehicle Unit joined the operation on Thursday to check lorries and other commercial vehicles passing along the borough’s roads.

One lorry was prohibited from the road for carrying another lorry which was bigger.