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More than a dozen arrested over duty free thefts from Gatwick Airport
12:40pm Wednesday 10th July 2013 in News
Officers have made more than a dozen arrests linked to the theft of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of duty free items from an airport.
More than 60 officers were involved in a series of raids yesterday across the county as part of an investigation into the theft of duty free items from Gatwick airport.
Police arrested 14 men and one woman and also recovered tens of thousands of pounds in cash as well as large amounts of jewellery, watches, cigarettes, perfume and red diesel have been recovered from homes across Sussex, Surrey and Kent.
The investigation, codenamed Operation Ottawa, is attempting to stop the theft of duty free items from the airport before they are loaded on to flights and sold to air passengers.
Police officers said the investigation was focused on employees at airline service company Gate Gourmet based at the airport.
Bosses at the firm alerted Sussex Police to the issue after discovering irregularities with its stock control systems.
Among those arrested include a 59-year-old man and 28-year-old man from Brighton, a 52-year-old Littlehampton man, a 46-year-old man from Worthing, a 21-year-old woman and a 48-year-old from Bognor and seven men from Crawley.
Tens of thousands of pounds
Detective Inspector Rob McPhilemy said: "The execution of the warrants today is the result of a long-running investigation into the theft of large amounts of duty free goods at Gatwick Airport before they could be sold.
"Intelligence our officers have collected over several months has led to the arrests and seizures of items worth tens of thousands of pounds this morning.
"I would also like to thank Gate Gourmet staff for their co-operation during the planning and execution of this operation."
A Sussex Police spokesman added: “How the items were stolen and removed from the airport and where they were distributed remains an open part of the investigation so we cannot comment on that at this stage.”
A Gate Gourmet spokesman said: “When Gate Gourmet London Gatwick discovered irregularities in its stock control, the company immediately alerted the appropriate authorities.
“Since then the authorities have been investigating and, in the process, identified individuals who were arrested Tuesday, on suspicion of theft.
“Gate Gourmet London Gatwick will continue to cooperate with the authorities in this on-going process and cannot provide any further comments at this time.”
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