Vehicle Crime #RemoveItLockIt
Vehicle crime generally increases during the summer season, which is why motorists need to be aware of how to protect their vehicle from being targeted by thieves, which is why Dorset Police is reminding people to think about their vehicle security.
Vehicle security can go to the back of people’s minds once they’ve parked up, especially if they’re on holiday, so they often leave themselves open to becoming a target.
Local business and residents don’t escape the clutch of the thieves either, whether they’re parked on a driveway, roadside or in any type of car park.
Whatever the reason you’re in Dorset - when leaving your vehicle for any period of time, remove everything (don’t just hide it under the seat, in the door well or boot), secure the vehicle and lock it.
The police officer
Detective Inspector Andy Dilworth of Bournemouth Police Station, said: “Vehicle crime has been an issue in Dorset for several years, and despite arresting prolific offenders regularly, criminals continue to target vehicles across the county.
“A large volume of vehicle crime occurs in the Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole conurbation where there is more opportunity.
“Other thieves target rural beauty spots, especially at this time of the year when more people visit the countryside, but many leave their vehicles unattended for a long time with few other people around.
“In this hot weather, people sometimes leave their windows open and doors unlocked when they park up or leave smaller items like sunglasses on show, which entices the thieves to try door handles and break-in to the vehicle.
“Some criminals attempt to steal from one hundred vehicles per night, so the advice we’re giving is clear: remove it, lock it!”
The convicted car thief
A convicted car thief, who has served time in prison for committing numerous offences, but is now working with Dorset Police, has offered the following advice for motorists, based on what he looked for before breaking into a vehicle.
He said: “The more security that your car has, the less likely it is to get done.
“When I’m looking at a car, I’m looking at what kind of security it’s got….whether it’s going to be something quick and easy or if it’s going to take a bit of time. Depending on the situation and time I’ve got, I decide whether it’s worth doing.
“I’ve found wallets…car keys and house keys, jewellery – people just leave a lot of stuff. Don’t leave anything on display – nothing. I wouldn’t even leave anything in door wells.”
The local man added that certain things deter a criminal from breaking into your car:
“Stickers, security signs that say ‘this car is alarmed’, visible alarm systems – the flashing red lights – steering locks, gearstick or handbrake locks – those type of security measures. These tell me that this person has gone out of their way to secure their car and, therefore, they are more forward-thinking so would be less likely to leave anything of value in their car…I would be less motivated to do it.
“If people were more security conscious it wouldn’t take them even five minutes to clear out their car and make it secure.
“If your car is clean, looks secure, looks empty, I’m probably just going to walk off and go to the next car. If I walk down the street and every car is like that, I’ll then move to a different street, and then a different area.”
Hear from the convicted car thief as he offers advice to motorists:
In total, 1204 vehicle crime reports were made to Dorset Police across the county, between 1 January – 11 May 2015.
There have been two large vehicle crime series in the Bournemouth area so far this year.
A series consisting of 84 Theft From Unattended Motor Vehicles (TFUMV) offences took place in the East Cliff, Springbourne and Boscombe West areas of Bournemouth.
The crimes were suspected to have been carried out by multiple people. Seven men have been arrested on suspicion of the offences, which were predominantly committed at night.
The second series occurred between April and May 2015. It consisted of 17 offences in the Southbourne area, believed also to have been committed by multiple offenders and also taking place during darkness.
For both of these series, the vehicles targeted were usually parked on a driveway.
Entry was gained by either opening unlocked doors, then searching for anything hidden, or by smashing windows if valuable items were clearly on show. Various items were stolen including loose change, wallets and bags.
Elsewhere in the county, particularly in Christchurch, North and East Dorset, the analysis shows that thefts are more likely to be from work vehicles, with petrol-powered gardening equipment and tools often stolen from vans.
When these offences occur overnight, windows are smashed or locks are broken to gain entry. Similar items are also stolen during the day by opportunists when they are left unsecure in the back of a van or pickup. It is believed offenders will even watch workers for an opportunity to strike, which can only take a few seconds.
Officers are proactively targeting offenders who commit this type of crime – using various means, including intelligence, to prosecute where possible.
A recent conviction for burglary and TFUMVs in Bournemouth, resulted in a prison sentence of two years and four months for Robbie Lyons, a 36-year-old man, of no fixed abode. He was convicted for attempting to burgle two houses and interfere with nine cars earlier this year.
Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) are working with public and private sector businesses across Dorset to ensure that trades people, residents and tourists are well equipped with knowledge and literature on how to avoid becoming a victim of vehicle crime.
Follow crime prevention tips on social media, by searching for the hash tag #RemoveItLockIt.
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