SECOND hand dealers are being warned to expect more visits from the police in a bid to clamp down on the stolen goods market.

Dealers in Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley, will be receiving letters from the police giving details of the clampdown.

Officers will then be making regular monthly visits to all dealers to check their books and examine their stock for stolen property.

Det Sgt Sally Riley of Eastern Division's Pro-active Targeting Team, is co-ordinating the clampdown.

She said: "We will be paying far more attention to second hand dealers than we have done in the past. Criminals often use these shops as a convenient way of cashing in property stolen from houses or commercial premises. They receive cash in return for the property which is then sold on to unsuspecting customers.

"Often the dealers will be unaware that the property is stolen and buy the items in good faith. However, there are some dealers who willingly take stolen property. These are the ones we want to have a real impact on." Second hand dealers have to be registered with the local authority and have to follow certain procedures before buying goods from people.

The initiative comes after the launch of a dedicated undercover team has been launched to crack down on the escalating number of break ins caused by drug addicts.

They must be shown two items of identification and must keep a record of names, addresses and goods bought in a register. This register has to be made available for inspection by the police on demand.

Lynn Wright, who runs Maxi Deals second-hand store on Darwen Street, Blackburn with co-owner Graham Page, has welcomed the clampdown.

She said; "Any move to encourage dealers to be more vigilant in regards to buying stolen property is a positive step. We already work very closely with the town centre police officers and will contact them if we have any suspicions about goods or people coming into the shop."

Maxi Deals operates a computer-based register of all people coming into the shop, what identification they produce and what goods they have received money for. Fully recorded and monitored CCTV operates in both shop premises and there are remote controlled shutters that can be deployed to prevent criminals from leaving the shop. The store is also directly linked to other shops in the town centre via the Town Centre Radio Link and staff have radio access to police officers.

Detective Sergeant Sally Riley said the scheme should make it more difficult for burglars to get rid of stolen property.

She said; "Anything that disrupts the activities of burglars is a positive move.

"Burglary is on the increase in the division and this is another step to help combat this rise."