MORE than 60 police officers lined up outside Blackburn Town Hall before launching one of the biggest single-day operations the area has ever seen.

In front of passing shoppers yesterday, Chief Inspector Damian Darcy briefed police on foot and on horseback.

The public show of force signalled the beginning of a day which saw prolific burglars confronted at their homes to warn them “we’re on to you”.

Officers also filmed and even followed the most persistent as part of the massive anti-burglary operation in Blackburn, Darwen and Accrington.

Hyndburn Coun Brian Walmsley said he was pleased to hear about the day of action but wanted guarantees that more would be done in the future.

He said: “Anything the police is doing to combat burglaries is welcome but it's not enough.

“These big one off schemes are all very well but will there be more done when it's over?

"People say to me constantly there isn't enough regular patrols or that they can't get hold of the police when it matters.”

A number of raids were carried out and suspected stolen property seized during the 12 hour operation.

It comes as officers revealed that at least 30 known offenders a day have been warned that police were watching them in the past week.

Police have also made 17 arrests and seized five vehicles as well as executing six search warrants.

Officers said the recession had seen a recent increase of around 10 per cent in burglaries, although they insist that the crime is at a 35-year low.

Yesterday, officers including those from the mounted unit, dog handlers and armed response completed the Operation Julius raids in Blackburn, Accrington and Darwen.

More than 60 officers gathered first outside Blackburn Town Hall for the public briefing before the operation and similar public meetings were held in other towns throughout the day.

So far this month 215 burglary suspects have been visited by senior officers in the towns as part of the operation and 24 second hand shops visited to ensure they were not selling stolen goods.

Around 12,000 vehicles also had their number plates checked and 338 failed due to problems with insurance and tax.

Last night officers were still calculating the number of people that had been stopped and arrested but said at least one arrest was made.

Superintendent Chris Bithell said police would use all powers available to target those making “people’s lives a misery” and were even filming and following prolific and suspected burglars.

Police flooded the towns as part of the operations, beginning in Higher Croft, Bank Top, Whitebirk, Griffin and Shadsworth, Blackburn, at 10am before moving on at 2pm to Accrington town centre, Woodnook, Peel, Barnfield and Clayton-le-Moors and then Darwen last night.

Supt Bithell said: “We visited those who do not get the message and will not engage with us to stop their offending.

“Some of these suspects were filmed and followed. These are the most prolific offenders and we want to give them the message that we are watching them and we know what they are up to.”

He said there was no additional cost for the operation as it had been included in police budgets.

Last month Chief Constable Steve Finnigan revealed that house burglaries rose by 13.4 per cent in April and May in the county.

He said: “We are at historic low levels for burglary and a small increase in numbers amounts to a big increase in percentages.

“Burglary is a crime that is an intrusion of personal space and this can have a devastating effect on people who become victims.

“As a force we are acutely aware of this impact and because there is a slight increase in the number of burglaries we intend to tackle this head on.”

Yesterday’s operation saw raids take place at the Swoppers second hand shop in Darwen Street and at several addresses in Fishmoor Drive, Blackburn.

Chief Insp Darcy said the meetings were held in town centres because they could accommodate large numbers of officers and vehicles.

He said: “Burglary is an iconic crime which has an adverse affect on public confidence, not only to the victims but to the wider community.

"This campaign aims to reduce the number of domestic burglaries, while raising awareness of the importance of taking simple crime prevention measures.

“Yestersday, Eastern Division was flooded with additional officers who actively pursued people involved in crime, demonstrating our determination to deal robustly with criminals.

“My message to those who persistently commit burglaries is simple.

"The police are committed to reducing burglary offences even further, you have two choices, stop now or you will be targeted, caught and face the consequences.

"We are in a position where we can call upon a large number of resources from outside the area to target problems and people 24/7.”

Anyone with any information or is concerned about crime in their neighbourhood, they are urged to contact police on 0845 125 3545 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.