POLICE in Blackwood say they have "declared war" on gangs of drug-fuelled car thieves targeting the town and, are warning them: "We're coming to get you."

A zero tolerance police operation is to begin in the town this week to hit back at car crime.

Detective Constable Alec Webley, from Blackwood CID, who is co-ordinating the operation, said: "We have declared war on car criminals.

"Car crime has become a very serious problem in the Blackwood area.

"Although the drug problem in Blackwood is no worse than in any other Valleys town, these car crimes are as a result of drugs, with the thieves, who are locals, stealing as much as they can.

"The message I would send out to them is, 'We are coming to get you'."

The move follows our revelations last week that in some parts of Newport, car thieves are breaking into vehicles within 20 seconds and stealing them within a minute.

A clampdown is now under way on estates such as Ringland, Alway, Treberth and Bishpool.

Thousands of pounds' worth of damage have been caused to cars in the Blackwood area over recent weeks as a result of thieves stealing cars and breaking in to vehicles to take stereos or personal items like purses and wallets left inside.

Particular hotspots include Penllwyn, Pontllanfraith and Fleur-de-Lys.

But police won a vital battle last week, when four youths were arrested in connection with alleged offences.

They have been released on police bail while forensic tests are being carried out.

DC Webley appealed for the people of Blackwood to help the police in their fight: "We will beat them one way or the other, but the only way we can solve it is with the help of the public."

He said steps are also being taken to clamp down on what the police call 'cruisers', young motorists who speed up and down the town's High Street in the evenings, particularly on weekends.Anyone who witnesses a car crime is asked to contact 999 immediately.

Anyone with information on car crimes can contact DC Webley in confidence on 01495 232436, Blackwood police on 01495 223673 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.