DETECTIVES have swooped on 13 homes to smash a gang suspected of stealing £300,000 from insurance companies through false claims.

Nine suspected fraudsters were targeted by officers who carried out raids at houses across Nelson over two days.

Police seized documents, computers, and other items which they are now examining as part of the investigation into the alleged offences.

Assets including a car and iron gates were also taken as officers suspect they may have been bought with the proceeds of crime.

The raids were part of Operation Flashlight, a two-year investigation targeting those suspected of making fraudulent insurance claims.

It involved police officers working with representatives of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, which investigates suspected false claims.

And civilian inspector, Craig Fairbrother was brought in to work alongside detectives, offering expert help.

The suspected offences involved contents, buildings and pet insurance.

Officers suspect the targets, who are known associates, of having made claims for damage that had not taken place or been inaccurately reported.

The raids were carried out at properties in Barkerhouse Road, Roberts Street, Chapel Street, Fletcher Street, Manchester Road, York Street, Kensington Street, and Pine Street. They took place on Monday and this morning.

Det Insp Dave Groombridge, of Nelson CID, said: .“Decent hardworking people feel angry and disheartened when they see others flaunting the trappings of wealth when no discernible, legitimate source of income is apparent.

“Together with colleagues from the Insurance Fraud Bureau we have taken property believed to have been fraudulently obtained, restrained assets relating to a number of suspects and will continue to frustrate and disrupt criminal activity in Pendle by making further arrests.”

It is estimated that fraudulent insurance claims effect every policy holder in the country. Premiums are set at a level to reflect losses through theft and this accounts for an average of £44 on every household policy.

John Beadle, chairman of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, said: “My message is that insurers are getting better at spotting these types of fraud and don’t think they are easy targets because we will identify you and the consequences are severe.”

To report anyone suspected of being involved in insurance fraud call 0800 328 2550 or go to

Three men have been charged with conspiracy to steal and money laundering offences and three others are assisting detectives with enquiries.