COPS swarmed into Colchester to try and catch metal thieves and track down stolen loot.

Officers from Essex Police and several other agencies joined forces for a crime crackdown this morning.

PC Shaun Hammond, who co-ordinated the operation, said: “This is in response to recent metal thefts and burglaries.

“It was aimed at disrupting criminal activity with a high visibility operation.”

About 40 officers were based around Hythe Quay, Stanway and Ipswich Road.

They were joined by HM Revenue and Customs, Trading Standards, counterfeit specialists among many others.

PC Hammond said: “Joint operations such as this are aimed at denying the use of the roads to criminals.

“The operation sends out a clear message to those who show little regard for the law.”

Police motorcyclists waited at roundabouts and on routes in and out of the town before directing drivers into their temporary base at the Hythe B&Q.

There they were spoken to by benefits team, others checking diesel, their loads were examined as well as their vehicles.

PC Hammond said: “It works very well and everyone jumps at the chance of working together.

“People who obey the law have nothing to fear.”