NINE men are being held in custody after being arrested as part of Operation Hawk, North Yorkshire’s major crackdown on travelling criminals.

Officers stopped a Ford Transit van travelling southbound on the A1(M) near Boroughbridge at around 5.30pm on Wednesday, March 12, and found a large container containing what is believed to be stolen diesel.

The vehicle was seized together with a quantity of cash and the occupants, three men, were arrested on suspicion of theft. The men, a 45-year-old from York and two aged 39 and 49 from Durham, are all in police custody for questioning.

In the early hours of today, March 13, four more suspects were arrested on the A1(M). The men, all from Hartlepool, were stopped near Junction 50 at around 5.15am with a stolen box trailer.

The four, aged 34, 28, 19, and 29, were seen with the trailer on the B6265 between Ripon and Pateley Bridge around an hour earlier. They remain in police custody for questioning.

Two other men are also been questioned by officers in connection with a theft from a car in Burton in Lonsdale.

The two, one aged 29 and from Blackpool, and the other aged 36 and of no fixed address, were arrested last night, March 12. They are also in police custody.

Operation Hawk was launched in July 2013 to protect North Yorkshire’s rural communities from the threat of travelling criminals.