Five people have been arrested, and around £130,000 in stolen machinery recovered by police in East Lancashire.

Two of the people were apprehended following a police chase which lasted eight minutes. 

Over the past two weeks, officers from the Rossendale rural task force have been out and about investigating machinery theft across the region.

As well as locating numerous stolen pieces of equipment worth thousands of pounds, they also came across suspected drug dealers, drink drivers, and drug drivers, with five arrests made in 12 days. 

On March 12, the rural task force and stolen vehicle team located a JCB worth approximately £6,000 which had been stolen from Colne.

Lancashire Telegraph: JCB mini excavatorJCB mini excavator (Image: Lancs Police)

A spokesperson for the police said: "Ourselves and our stolen vehicle team attended an address and examined a JCB mini excavator.

"Despite efforts having been made by unknown parties over the years to clone/de-identify the machine, our team were able to identify this as a confirmed stolen machine which was originally stolen from Colne.

"Also on March 12, we stopped a vehicle and searched the driver and vehicle under Sec.23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

"We located class B drugs in the vehicle and the driver was dealt with accordingly with the drugs seized."

The following day, a transit van was stopped by police near Waterfoot, with the driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.

He refused to provide a breath sample at the road side, and was arrested on suspicion of drink driving. 

The spokesperson added: "He then failed to provide an evidential sample of breath in custody and was consequently charged with failing to provide."

That same day, March 13, the Rossendale rural task force along with colleagues from the Ribble Valley rural task force, received information about two stolen dumpers they believed had been hidden at a rural location near Hapton.

Lancashire Telegraph: One of the stolen dumpersOne of the stolen dumpers (Image: Lancs Police)

The spokesperson went on: "We attended this location and discovered two dumpers that had been recently stolen from Cumbria.

"They had been crudely stuffed into a horse box and were promptly seized. These were worth around £50,000."

In the early hours of March 15, patrols in Helmshore and Ramsbottom came across a vehicle being poorly driven on Holcombe Road.

The car had no headlights on and smelled strongly of cannabis.

When the occupants decided not to stop, a pursuit ensued which lasted around eight minutes, with the driver of the vehicle swerving violently into the wrong carriageway.

The spokesperson continued: "The driver caught our attention due to his poor manner of driving, because they had no headlights on and because the car smelled so strongly of cannabis.

"Unfortunately, however the car and its four occupants decided not to stop for us, and a pursuit ensued.

"This lasted around eight minutes throughout which time the vehicle was driving on the wrong side of the road and swerving violently.

"The pursuit was then concluded when our colleagues from immediate response were able to deploy a stinger device which successfully deflated the subject vehicle’s tyres.

"All four occupants ran from the vehicle and officers managed to chase them on foot and soon arrested two [on suspicion of] theft of motor vehicle."

The on March 19, acting on intelligence, rural task force officers visited a property near Rawtenstall where they suspected there was stolen plant machinery and recovered a JCB 140X excavator, which been stolen from Bristol three weeks earlier, with the machine worth around £74,000.

Lancashire Telegraph: Rossendale rural task forceRossendale rural task force (Image: Rossendale rural task force)

The spokesperson added: "On March 23 in the early hours of the morning we noticed a Mercedes being driven on Broadway, Haslingden.

"Due to its manner of driving and the fact that the vehicle had two flat tyres we stopped the vehicle and soon discovered the female driver to smell strongly of alcohol.

"She then failed a roadside breath test providing a reading of 82 units with the legal limit being 35 units.

"Unfortunately, the bad news didn’t end there as it soon transpired that the driver was also disqualified from driving until March 2025.

"She was arrested [on suspicion of] drink driving and driving whilst disqualified and also later failed to provide a sample of breath in custody."

On that same day, at around 11pm, a Ford Transit suspected of being on false plates was stopped, with the driver found to have no insurance.

He was arrested, and further arrested on suspicion of drink driving, later providing a sample of breath in custody with the lowest reading being 70 units – double the legal limit.

Finally, on March 24, police in Haslingden saw a Volkswagen Golf travelling at speed down Hud Rake and onto Roundhill Road.

According to the police, the Golf was recorded travelling around 20mph above the speed limit and also performed a dangerous overtake of a vehicle.

Police said that the Golf was recorded overtaking on the wrong side of two double solid white lines approaching a blind summit.

The spokesperson added: "If there had been an oncoming vehicle it would have resulted in a head-on collision in a 50mph zone.

"We stopped and spoke with the female driver who was reported for summons for driving without due care and attention.

"We’re committed to tacking rural crime including agricultural/plant machinery theft and also keeping our roads safe.

"If you have any information that you feel may assist us in tackling these matters, please email us on:"