WHEN I was asked to go on a rural ride-along with Bracknell police, two words came to mind: 'ROAD WARS'.

An avid watcher of the TV show - which frequently features Thames Valley Police - I expected us to discover dozens of motorists without tax, insurance or a valid MOT.

This meant I got quite a shock when my policing partner for the evening, PC Phil Appleby, told me the Road Wars TV crew spends months filming the programme and picking out the exciting bits - much to my disappointment.

But he promised me we would find something exciting, so we both kept our eyes peeled for any suspicious-looking vehicles as we trawled the streets of Warfield, Winkfield, Cranbourne and North Ascot on Thursday night.

Our patrol was part of a new campaign to fight rural crime in the Thames Valley - launched only last Tuesday with Bracknell as the flagship station. In our borough, officers have been ramping up patrols throughout the Northern parishes to "flood" the area and deter any crimes.

This is particularly in response to a spate of thefts from vans, with several reports of tools and scrap metal being stolen in this traditionally quiet part of Bracknell Forest.

Neighbourhood inspector Dave Bryan, leading the operation, said: "The operation runs all day and all evening. It's about doing high-visibility patrols and checking factories, units and barns in the area and getting people signed up to Thames Valley Alerts."

He said a lot of building sites between Warfield and North Ascot have been targeted by thieves and added: "Thames Valley Police is looking to stamp out rural crime with 100 days of action. We have a preventative and detecting strategy."

On Tuesday - the first night of the operation - patrols did not make any arrests, but the following day (Wednesday), officers pounced on a suspicious vehicle with a trailer and discovered items of stolen property within.

They arrested three men, all of whom have been bailed pending inquiries.

Insp Bryan, speaking of the Wednesday night operation, said it was a great result for the team and added: "Everything just fitted in really perfectly, it was an excellent display of teamwork and a good result. If we identify crimes being committed in Bracknell then we will respond. The minute we see a slight pattern - that's it."

Unfortunately PC Appleby and I didn't see any of the suspicious 4x4s with trailers or white vans we were looking for on Thursday, however we did pull over a bewildered youngster, suspected of riding an electric motorbike without insurance.

For PC Appleby it was a normal day patrolling the streets. For me, it was just exciting to be in a police car when the sirens went off. Brilliant.