A LARGE police presence including a force helicopter was spotted at a Bolton travellers site that has been subjected to numerous raids in recent years.

Little Lever resident Mick Smith was passing Crompton Lodge Caravan Park on Hall Lane in Moses Gate when he noticed a large number of police vehicles parked up at the side of the road.

Mr Smith, who had a trailer stolen a couple of months ago, stopped at the scene and approached officers.

He witnessed eight police vehicles in attendance with a helicopter hovering above at around 4.30pm on Thursday.

He said: “There were six normal police cars there as well as a BMW traffic estate and a four-wheel car going up the grass verge.

“A helicopter was in the area as well.

“There were also armed police. A lot of coppers were there.

“There were a few at the entrance where I was stood and quite a few on the site.

“A black pickup truck was taken out of the site but I did not see any other vehicles.

“I was probably there for around 30 minutes but the police must have been there for a while.”

Greater Manchester Police has been approached for a comment on the incident.

The Bolton Council caravan park is a site where travellers can reside on a permanent basis under a tenancy agreement.

The premises can accommodate up to 26 families.

But the site has been plagued by reports from residents of stolen vehicles being taken back there.

Back in January, £40,000 worth of caravans were stolen from a high-security lock-up at a farm on the Westhoughton and Atherton border.

One of the caravans was said to have been traced to the caravan park before police were alerted and sent to the scene in a 1am raid.

A caravan was found with significant damage caused to both the interior and the exterior of the caravan as thieves had tried to locate any tracking devices inside.

A second caravan, which did not have a tracking device, was not located at the site by officers.

Police also arrested a man and two boys on suspicion of theft after a similar raid by the force's tactical aid unit in March. Three vehicles were recovered by police during the search - a Volvo, a Vauxhall and a Ford Transit van.