Police car makeover in vehicle crime campaign

12 May 2017
Dorset Police is launching its summer vehicle crime awareness and prevention campaign with the deployment of a specially branded police car across the county. 

The fully marked vehicle will continue to respond to emergency calls for assistance and carry out high visibility patrols across Dorset as a visual reminder to motorists to remove all items, secure their vehicle and lock it. 

The car uses bows and ribbon on one side with the lettering ‘unlocked vehicles are gifts to thieves’ with the other side featuring chains and a padlock with the wording ‘lock your vehicle, thieves operate in this area’.

Thefts from motor vehicles usually peak during the hot weather, as both locals and holiday makers visit beauty spots and beaches. However, vehicle security can go to the back of people’s minds once they’ve parked up and they often leave themselves vulnerable to becoming a victim of crime. 

Over the last 12 months, Dorset Police has received 2,864 reports of thefts from motor vehicles with a total of 3,545 reports of crimes connected to vehicles. 

Sergeant Jamie Clark, the Force lead for vehicle crime, said: “A large number of vehicle crimes are as a result of the occupants leaving items on display or leaving windows open and doors unlocked. By taking simple precautions, we could significantly reduce opportunist theft from vehicles. 

“We regularly arrest and prosecute prolific offenders, however criminals continue to target vehicles across the county, whether at a beauty spot, a roadside or on a residential driveway.

“We are now beginning to see a trend of criminals watching unsuspecting motorists from other vehicles in car parks before targeting their vehicle when the driver has gone. We would encourage the public to report any suspicious activity they see to police by calling 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress.”

Previous research by Dorset Police has found that a car thief often needs only 10 to 20 seconds to commit a crime.

A convicted car thief from Dorset gave this advice to motorists on how to avoid being a victim of crime: “When I’m looking at a car, I’m looking at what kind of security it’s got, I’m looking at whether it’s going to be something quick and easy or if it’s going to take a bit of time. 

“Stickers, security signs, visible alarm systems, steering locks, gearstick or handbrake locks – those type of security measures tell me that this person has gone out of their way to secure their car. 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 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.”

Sergeant Clark continues: “We would encourage members of the public who see the vehicle to share photos of it on social media using the #RemoveItLockIt hashtag.”