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Police may have broken an organised operation which has been stealing utes and pick-ups across Canterbury to on-sell or break down for parts.

Armed police have raided several properties in the region in recent weeks, the latest taking place on Tuesday.

Eight stolen Toyota Hiluxs and Land Cruisers have been recovered.

Police also found firearms and cannabis at the properties, and a stolen trailer.

As well as the Hiluxs and Land Cruisers, police are also focusing on a spate of Ford Courier pick-ups which have been targeted as part of Operation 360.

Last week, The Star revealed 19 Ford Couriers made between 2000 and 2006 have been stolen in Canterbury in the past six months.

Senior Sergeant Stephen McDaniel said three people have been arrested and charged with theft, cultivating cannabis and possessing firearms.

More arrests are likely, he said.

Said McDaniel of the vehicles recovered: “They’re being rebirthed.

“So, legitimate plates and numbers are being put on them to enable them to be sold. Others are used and stripped for parts.”

He said there was a demand for the vehicles and parts.

He said police were armed when they carried out the raids but did not meet any resistance.

McDaniel said the occupants of the properties they searched were not gang members.

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