POLICE seized two stolen diggers worth £23,000 which were bound for France.
The orange Hitachi EX30 and the Takeuchi TB125 were intercepted on their way to Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port where they were to be shipped to new foreign owners.
Police say the haulier had taken on the job in good faith, not realising the cargo it had agreed to transport was stolen property.
The diggers were seized on January 16 when officers spotted the truck transporting the machines on the A34 at Whitchurch, north Hampshire. Checks revealed they were stolen from two separate premises in Oldham, Greater Manchester in November..
PC Ian Jackson said: ‘This isn’t a case of low-level criminals seizing an opportunity.
‘These crimes are more often than not perpetrated by organised gangs with international links and demand in the foreign market.
‘Although these vehicles came from outside of our force area, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are prime targets because of our isolated rural communities and transport network.’