A series of high-profile raids across Croydon yesterday could help reassure residents in the wake of the Woolwich terror attack, police have claimed. More than 200 officers were involved in the raids, which saw 24 people arrested. The arrests were made in connection with offences such as burglary, robbery, the supply of drugs and assault. A cannabis factory was also discovered on Woodcote Valley Road, Purley. The raids were part of Operation Big Wing - a "London-wide co-ordinated activity to cut crime". Superintendent Rob Atkin said: "This operation was already planned but after the incidents in Woolwich, it is good to get out in the community and reassure people that we are doing something to combat crime. "We used most of our force on Big Wing, even those who normally do desk jobs." The Advertiser accompanied the police to an address on Grange Road, Thornton Heath, where they had a warrant to search the address for suspected stolen push-bikes. Police initially knocked on the door to no answer before the 16-year-old male suspect peered through his upstairs window. A battering ram was then used to break the door down and enter the premises, by which time the suspect had climbed over a wall in his back garden and run off. After a 15 minute search, the suspect was found hiding in the front garden of a property in Decimus Gardens, which he is known to frequent with friends. Returning to the property with the suspect, police put the suspect's large bullmastiff dog in a cage and performed a thorough search. Officers found £60 in counterfeit cash and two stolen bikes. The suspect was expected to be charged with handling stolen goods, possession of counterfeit notes and obstruction of a police search. MP Steve Reed attended a briefing with around 50 officers outside Zodiac Court in West Croydon. Uniform officers focused a large part of the afternoon on Broad Green and West Croydon. In the evening, officers focused their patrols on New Addington and its surrounding areas, targeting anti-social behaviour in particular. Licensing officers were checking for items such as counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol. They seized several bottles of imported rum from an off-license that did not have the correct duty paid on it. Croydon's uniform and CID officers were joined by the Met's Territorial Support Group, British Transport Police, Special Constables, Police Cadets and Enforcement Officers from Croydon Council. Superintendent Atkin said: "Operation Big Wing was about showing our communities that we are committed to taking robust action against those responsible for crime in Croydon. "We focused our efforts to target those people causing the most harm to local communities across the borough - whether they be gang members, robbers or those causing antisocial behaviour which can have such a devastating effect on people's lives."
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