ARMED police officers have launched a campaign to target four areas of serious crime in the run up to Christmas.

Operation Sorbus, lead by Lancashire Police's tactical operations team, will focus on tackling cash-in-transit robberies, cash machine thefts, drink drug drivers and 'Hanoi' burglaries, where expensive and high powered cars are stolen from homes.

As part of the operation, the team will carry out stop checks across the county in the morning and evening.

The teams will also support the delivery of cash machines across the county, and visit businesses and checking CCTV and provide security advice.

Vehicles linked to organised crime group and previous cash machine thefts will be intercepted using auto number plate recognition technology.

This comes as several cash machine robberies and car thefts have taken place over East Lancashire.

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Thousands of pounds was stolen from a Spar in Clitheroe after a digger was used to rip out a cash machine in October.

An angle grinder and gas cylinders were used to blow up a cash machine at a post office in Accrington in the same month.

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Supt Julian Platt, said: "These crimes affect businesses, the general public and homeowners.

"They can have a devastating impact on their victims and leave them extremely vulnerable.

"Ahead of Christmas these types of offences increase and in turn we are increasing our activity to tackle these crimes.

"We want to help deter and detect this criminal activity and bring these offenders to justice."

The team will also patrol the borders of neighbouring constabularies to stop stolen vehicles from travelling into Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

There will be armed response officers and advanced unarmed drivers positioned to stop thieves driving out of the county in stolen cars.

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Supt Platt said: "We are determined to prevent and tackle these crimes.

"Our message to those planning on carrying out these offences – whether it be cash-in-transit robberies, ATM thefts, thefts of vehicles or drink or drug driving is clear - we will find you and we will make sure, particular for serious offences, you spend this Christmas and many more to come behind bars away from your family and loved ones.

"We understand some of the stop checks might be an inconvenience but we would urge you to be patient while we conduct our operation.

"We are committed to cracking down on criminals who make the lives of people a misery and we will continue to use all the powers available to us to target these criminals, prevent offences and bring those responsible to justice."

Police are asking people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity in the run up to Christmas by calling 101.