Police have arrested 20 people and are said to have recovered 34 stolen bikes in a crackdown on dodgy street traders at Brick Lane Market.

A joint operation by the Metropolitan Police with Tower Hamlets Council enforcement officers codenamed ‘Operation Scorpii’ made the sting targeting illegal street sellers.

Street patrols, which also included market and trading standards inspectors, collared unsuspecting illegal vendors palming off stolen booty as well as those who did not have trading licenses.

“This operation will continue to run,” Sgt Alvaro Aracena-Fuentes warned. “It has so far helped to return the market to a state of security, largely free of crime and anti-social behaviour — hopefully for years.”

Operation Scorpii was launched this time last year, paid for with council tax money for extra police to be allocated to street patrols.

It ran on more than half the Sundays that the weekly market is held in Bethnal Green, along Brick Lane, Sclater Street and Cheshire Street.

Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “Brick Lane is a popular street market, so it’s vital that we make sure it's safe. The success of this operation is down to a working partnership between police and council.”

Police carried out 130 ‘stop and search’ procedures in the market over 12 months looking for stolen property or articles used for stealing and even offences of drug misuse.

It wasn't just 'hooky' bikes they seized. A quantity of tools used for burglary and theft were confiscated during the regular sweeps.

Officers also issued 64 people with formal ‘antisocial behaviour’ warnings or Community Protection notices which ban them from the market area.

Some 20 arrests were made during the year for offences including burglary, bike theft, handling stolen goods, going equipped to steal, recall to prison, possessing knives, assault, sexual crime and court-related offences. Added to that, council enforcement officers issued fines for illegal street trading.

But police have also been trying to take the sting out of bike crimewave with Operation Scorpii by running crime-prevention ‘bike marking’ events where 50 cyclists have had their machines marked with invisible identity bar-codes.