People smuggling gangs target UK maritime industry

Callous people smuggling gangs are targeting the UK maritime industry as demand for small boats soars.

Criminals sent more than 8,000 asylum seekers on perilous trips across the Channel in flimsy dinghies last year, a combination of lockdown measures and calm weather fuelling the rise.

By the end of last month the number was more than double that recorded in the same period last year and the National Crime Agency fears the summer months will be accompanied by another increase.

Now the National Crime Agency (NCA) is warning sailing suppliers of thefts and urging them to keep watch for unusual consumer behaviour, including bulk buying and repeat custom.

Organised crime groups are known to target legitimate sellers of vessels and equipment such as outboard motors and life jackets, both in person and online.

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