Police arrested 15 people early yesterday morning (Tuesday July 9th) as part of an investigation into large scale thefts at Gatwick Airport. More than 60 officers executed warrants from 4.00 am on Tuesday 9 July at homes across Sussex including Worthing as well as in Surrey and Kent.
14 men and a woman were arrested and a large quantity of property seized. Tens of thousands of pounds in cash as well as large amounts of jewellery, watches, cigarettes, perfume and red diesel were recovered.
The investigation, codenamed Operation Ottawa, is aimed at tackling the theft of hundreds of thousands of pounds of duty free items at Gatwick before they could be put on flights and sold.
Warrants were executed in Crawley, Brighton, Worthing, Angmering, Bognor, Rustington, Horsham, Lingfield in Surrey and Gillingham in Kent.
The 15 people arrested are being held at police stations across the south east on suspicion of theft.
The operation has the support of Gate Gourmet, which alerted Sussex Police to the issue after discovering irregularities with its stock control systems.
Detective Inspector Rob McPhilemy said: “The execution of the warrants today is the result of a long-running investigation into the theft of large amounts of duty free goods at Gatwick Airport before they could be sold.
“Intelligence that our officers have collected over several months has led to the arrests and seizures of items worth tens of thousands of pounds this morning.
“I would also like to thank Gate Gourmet staff for their co-operation during the planning and execution of this operation.”