Police issue warning over ‘nighthawking’

POLICE are warning illegal metal detectorists that they face being arrested and having their equipment and finds confiscated.

It comes after a 42-year-old man from Thetford was taken to Bury St Edmunds Police Station on Saturday morning after police officers received reports that the crime – known as nighthawking – was taking place on fields in the Ixworth area.

Patrols were sent out to the area just before 1am on Saturday and the man was arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal.

Following property searches and questioning, he was also cautioned for possession of ammunition and his metal detecting equipment was confiscated.

Detective Inspector Andy Footer said nighthawking was and would continue to be taken seriously by Suffolk police.

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He said: “We do receive calls about this illegal activity and officers will respond to reports as a priority.

“Procedures are in place to attempt to prevent the unlawful use of metal detectors, and as soon as information is received that this illegal activity is taking place, officers are dispatched to attend and will aim to contain the area with the intention of detaining the offenders.”

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He said that previous incidents had seen the force helicopter deployed as well as other specialist units such as the dog section.

He explained that many fields in Suffolk were protected heritage sites where digging for artefacts was forbidden.

Where protection does not exist, metal detector enthusiasts operating without the landowner’s permission were still breaking the law, he said.

He added that anyone interested in legal metal detecting should contact their Safer Neighbourhood Team to make them aware that permission from the landowner had been given.

Anyone with any information about illegal metal detecting should call Suffolk Police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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