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Man held over Christmas gift theft

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A group of criminals has been arrested over the theft of Christmas presents worth more than £15,000 from a series of homes in Gateshead.

Police arrested five people over the burglaries following tip-offs from members of the public, whose suspicions were aroused by a van they had noticed in the Dunston area.

George Farrow, 30, from Swalwell, was arrested at his home, where police found the stolen presents in their original wrapping under his own Christmas tree.

Mr Farrow appeared at Gateshead Magistrates' Court charged with burglary and was released on bail until his trial next year. Two women, aged 22 and 39, and two men, aged 46 and 24, were also arrested over the incident.

Inspector Mick Robson said: "We are delighted with the result of this operation which has followed a number of burglaries in the area.

"It shows the importance of local residents and local police officers talking to each other."

The owners of the gifts have donated them to the Marie Curie Centre in Newcastle following their ordeal.

© Press Association 2009