Bedfordshire has topped a national table of year-on-year increases of vehicle crime reported to police.
Incidents in Bedfordshire rose a shocking 35 percent, with 7,798 reported in 2018 versus 5,774 in 2017.
In comparison, bottom of the league, Wiltshire, dropped its figures by 28 percent, with 2,850 incidents reported in 2018 compared to 3,949 the year before.
Nationally, as a whole, car-related crime was up two percent in 2018, with over 450,000* incidents reported throughout the year.
That’s the equivalent of 25 extra vehicle crimes per day.
The police definition of a ‘vehicle crime’ is “theft from or of a vehicle or interference with a vehicle”. Not all of these incidents involve vehicle theft.
“It can take only 10 seconds for someone to break into your car,” said Sergeant Ben Dimmock, from the Community Safety and Crime Reduction team at Bedfordshire Police.
“Laptops, tablets, sat nav devices, mobile phones and handbags are often items targeted during a house burglary, yet are frequently kept in our cars.”
So, what can Bedford residents do to protect their vehicles?
- At home, don’t keep your car keys next to your front door or in an obvious place.
- Always remember to LOCK your vehicle, so many thefts occur from unlocked motors and close the windows and sunroof.
- Never leave tools in your van overnight, there are devices available on the internet which unlock certain makes of vans. It is also worth having a sign in your vehicle that states no tools are left in it overnight.
- Don’t leave things on show in your car, whether it’s an expensive laptop or just some loose change or a packet of cigarettes, as these can be an incentive to the opportunist thief. Even items of clothing can attract thieves, as they may think that there will be money in the pockets.
- Don’t leave valuables in the glovebox of your car. To prove to would-be thieves that it’s empty, you can empty your glove-box and leave it open when you leave your vehicle.
- It’s better to store items in the boot at your point of departure, not the point of arrival – you don’t know who may be watching.
- Property marking cannot prevent your goods from being stolen but it is a very good deterrent as it is difficult to sell on stolen property that has been marked. It also allows the police to return recovered stolen goods to their rightful owner. Mark your property with your house/flat number and postcode
- Alloy wheels are always attractive to a thief because of their high value. You can secure your wheels by using locking wheel nuts.
- Park your vehicle in a well-lit spot that is visible to other members of the public, or covered by CCTV.
- Keep motorcycles in a locked garage or shed, or failing that, chained securely to an immovable object.
“We take vehicle crime very seriously and we fully understand the effects these crimes can have on victims,” added Sergeant Dimmock.
“Vehicle crime is occurring across the whole county; there are no definitive hotspots on which to focus interventions. The various elements that enable vehicle crime and encourage offenders to commit vehicle crime are widespread and constantly changing.
“Operation Chain was launched in 2018 to reduce vehicle crime in the county, as a result of not only the sustained level in the number of recorded incidents of thefts from motor vehicle and thefts of motor vehicles across the county, but also the increase in theft of tools from trades vehicles.
“Operation Chain takes a more focused and proactive approach to reducing vehicle crime, primarily concentrating on victims and potential victims.
“We aim to provide people with as much information and knowledge as they need in order to protect their property and vehicles to make it more difficult for would-be offenders, and therefore reduce the number of incidents of this type of crime.
“We always encourage anyone who has been the victim of vehicle crime or has seen anything suspicious to report it to us. Any information can be used as vital intelligence to help disrupt criminals and combat such offending.”
Any suspicious activity that is noticed in the area should be reported to police on 101 or by using our online reporting tool.
You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously 0800 555111.
*Figures were collated by private plate provider Click4Reg using ta.police.uk from across 42 different police forces and constabularies across England and Wales. The exact amount for 2018 is 450,509 incidents, versus 441,366 in 2017.