SECOND-hand traders in North Yorkshire have passed an undercover inspection with flying colours.

Trading standards officers targeted second-hand goods dealers to see if they were prepared to buy "dodgy" goods.

In a covert operation, officers took relatively high priced electrical items such as TVs and video recorders into second-hand shops.

They were looking to find out if the dealers would purchase the items for any price with "no questions asked".

The undercover officers took in a total of nine second-hand shops.

They reported that, on each occasion, the items they were offering for sale were refused when the officer refused to give a name and address.

North Yorkshire County Council legislation makes it an offence for any dealer in second-hand goods to buy an item without getting and recording the name and address of the seller.

The ruling, introduced in 1991, aims to help combat the distribution of stolen property throughout the county.

Trading standards bosses have hailed the results of the small sample test as evidence that the legislation appears to be working. Plans are now afoot to repeat the undercover exercise in the future.

Councillor John Dennis, the county council's executive member with responsibility for trading standards, said he was delighted with the results, but warned there was no room for complacency.

He has urged second-hand dealers to remain vigilant and to pass on any suspicions they might have to the police.

He said: "It is very pleasing to see that the second-hand trade is acting responsibly.

"Thieves rely on outlets to turn goods into cash. I would urge second-hand dealers to remain vigilant and to pass on any suspicions to the police."

Updated: 10:09 Wednesday, April 16, 2003