A TEAM of specialist officers are celebrating after breaking though the £1m barrier as they continue to seize cash and assets off criminals in the region.
The latest success came at Teesside Magistrates Court where Cash Forfeiture orders totalling £732,784.70 were granted.
That took the total seizure made by financial officers from the North East Regional Economic Crime Unit (RECU) to £1,125,742.40 so far this year.
More than £480,000 of which was found concealed inside a fireplace and recovered by drugs-busting officers.
Working alongside colleagues from the National Crime Unit, they are continuing to target criminals and their assets.
Detective Sergeant Thomas Maughan, a lead for the North East RART, said: “Passing the million pound milestone was a huge achievement for us as it shows the public we are serious about tackling organised crime.
“For most criminals cash is still king – organised crime groups will do absolutely anything to make money, and then will go to great lengths to launder it and conceal where it originally came from.
“But the Proceeds of Crime Act allows us to enter a person’s home and seize cash and assets which we believe has links to criminality. We can then also go after individuals involved in serious and organised crime after they have been brought before the courts and impose further financial orders on them.
“For some offenders prison might not seem like much of a deterrent if they own their own home and a healthy bank balance to return to so we work tirelessly to make sure these people are stripped of whatever a life of crime afforded them.”
In recent years the team has taken clothes from people’s wardrobes, cars parked on the driveway and even seized pensions and insurance policies.
DS Maughan called on people to be vigilant and report anything they think might be suspicious, such as people appearing to live well beyond their means.
He added: “People might think we’re harsh revisiting offenders who have served their time but we need to look at the bigger picture. If you have made money by selling drugs and used that cash to buy a house and a luxury car – why should you be able to keep it? Crime does not pay, and we will keep reminding people of that.”
l To report suspicious behaviour call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.