Police have issued a warning over the spike in cargo thefts following a burglary on a trading estate near Kidderminster.

A trailer full of household goods including washing powder and food was taken from the Hartlebury Trading Estate on Sunday, November 26.

This was followed by another trailer full of cheeses worth £50,000 being stolen from Strensham services on the M5 last Friday (December 1).

Other haulage firms are now being told to be on their guard and the public asked to be extra vigilant and not buy Christmas gifts or goods on the black market.

Detective Sergeant, Andrew Farmer, from the Field Intelligence team in South Worcestershire said: “The majority of these thefts are linked to an organised crime gang in West Yorkshire that has been operating for decades as well as ones in the West Midlands and Merseyside who see it as a ‘low-risk high reward’ enterprise.

“We recognise there is an increased demand for black market goods, perhaps due to inflation rises and the cost-of-living crisis, but items that have literally ‘fell off the back of a lorry’ are of course illegal and acquiring them this way simply fuels more freight crime.

“We continue to work collaboratively with partner forces to tackle these crimes as part of Operation Yard, which sees officers deter criminal gangs from targeting delivery lorries by ensuring police are present in hot-spot areas especially during the evenings and issue security advice to lorry drivers.”

The thefts have contributed to an estimated loss value of £1.35 million in cargo from service stations at Frankley, Strensham, Telford and Hopwood over the past few years and officers expect there will be even more opportunities for gangs as deliveries ramp up to meet consumer demand at Christmas.

Toys, food, white goods and perfumes are amongst some of the most popular items that organised crime gangs are targeting for a quick resale with 140 such crimes in the West Mercia force area this year.

This is almost double last year’s total of 83.

Detective Constable, Dan Griffiths, of the West Mercia Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), added: “These high value acquisitive crimes relate to all products that go into the supply chain.

“There’s a reputational impact on large carriers too if their lorries are getting raided as they will lose custom as well as insurance premiums go up and stock missing from our supermarket shelves, so any additional costs in the chain will eventually get passed onto the customer.”

Anyone who sees anything suspicious should report it on the West Mercia Police website.