FIVE men were arrested in dawn raids this morning (Monday March 20) in connection with a series of burglaries across the region.

Officers from West Midlands and Staffordshire Police joined forces to simultaneously swoop on a gang, believed to be responsible for 70 crimes across both counties.

When the crime spree started in June last year detectives worked quickly to use CCTV footage, forensic evidence and other information to link a number of offences where factories, stores, charity shops, golf courses and scrap metal dealers were broken into.

Around £500,000 is believed to have been stolen from businesses across Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Wombourne.

Detective Inspector Clair Langley, from Staffordshire Police led the operation which involved a total of 40 officers from both forces - and she said: "These raids are the result of a lot of hard work. "Officers from both forces have worked tirelessly to piece together all of the facts.

"The crimes have had a devastating impact on the staff who work at the targeted businesses. They have taken it extremely personally, particularly the volunteers at the charity shops which were raided.

"Days of valuable trade have been lost and charity funds which should be supporting the needy have now been diverted into repairing the thousands of pounds worth of damage caused."

Police say burglary rates across the West Midlands have been slowly rising since June 2016 - despite reductions over the past 15 years.

This morning’s raids are part of the fightback and saw five men arrested in Wolverhampton on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle.

Those arrested were a 22-year-old from Heath Town, 26-year-old from Bilston, a 26-year-old from Low Hill, a 47-year-old from Willenhall, and a 29-year-old man from Low Hill.