Gypsy leaders warn of scams ahead of Appleby Fair

A queue of caravans on the A66 Westbound
Cumbria Police said it had made several arrests in connection with handling stolen goods [Cumbria Police]

Gypsy and Traveller leaders have warned visitors planning to attend Appleby Horse Fair to be aware of scammers after suspected stolen caravans were seized.

Cumbria Police said it had seized several vehicles and arrested three men on suspicion of handling stolen goods at the weekend.

The fair, which attracts visitors from all over Europe, is due to take place from 6 to 12 June.

In a joint statement, community leaders Billy Welch and Bill Lloyd said anyone who knowingly brings stolen property to the fair "deserves what they get", adding: "We advise people to be very careful when buying a caravan, it is easy to get scammed."

The pair praised police for using "good intelligence, modern technology and pro-active policing" to identify and recover stolen caravans, trailers and a motorhome.

"Some people have been quick to claim on social media that these pro-active police actions are heavy-handed harassment and persecution," they said.

"We disagree."

Mr Welch, from Darlington, and Mr Lloyd said some of those affected by the vehicle seizures were "unfortunate innocent buyers" who had been unaware they possessed a stolen caravan.

Their statement added: “We believe that all law-abiding people who are the majority of visitors to the fair will have no complaint about this action, whether they are Romani Gypsies, ‘weekend Gypsies’, or horse lovers, adventurous holiday makers, or day visitors from the settled community.

"However, anyone who knowingly brings stolen property to Appleby Fair deserves what they get.

"It is their own fault, and they will get no sympathy from us.

"We have never tried to defend or condone criminality of any description and we never will."

Police action

Cumbria Police said it had arrested three men, in their 40s, in the Kirkby Stephen, Sedbergh and Burrells areas on Saturday and Sunday.

The arrests came days after two other men were apprehended and caravans and a pick-up truck seized in Brough and Long Marton on 25 May.

Supt Dan St Quintin, Police Gold Commander for the Appleby Horse Fair, said: “The arrests we have made have been intelligence-led and aimed at targeting a small minority so that the vast majority of law-abiding people who are intending to come to the county to enjoy the fair can do so."

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