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Police launch summer vehicle crime campaign

Dorset Police is launching a new vehicle crime awareness and prevention campaign, to coincide with one of the busiest times of year in the county – the summer school holidays.

The offence of theft from unattended motor vehicles(TFUMV) usually peaks during the hot weather, as more people visit local 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 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.

Dorset Police has spoken to a convicted car thief about how he selected vehicles, to provide tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of vehicle crime, as thieves often need only 10 to 20 seconds to commit a crime.

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!”

A convicted car thief, who committed vehicle related crimes in; Charminster, East Cliff, West Cliff, Winton and Boscombe, is working with the police to move on from his criminal past, and has provided the following advice for motorists, to avoid being targeted.

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, 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. Depending on the situation and time I’ve got, I decide whether it’s worth doing.

“I’ve found wallets in there, 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.”

Dorset Police has also analysed vehicle crime trends in the last few months, releasing this information to the public to help them understand how offenders think and operate.

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 during at night.

The second series occurred between mid-April and mid-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 made either via insecure doors with searches then carried out to look for anything hidden, or with windows smashed 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. 

In total, 1204 vehicle crime reports were made to Dorset Police across the county, between 1 January – 11 May 2015.

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 on how to avoid becoming a victim of vehicle crime, by giving out crime prevention tips verbally and also with new posters.

Dorset Police will be using social media to remind people that whatever the reason they are in the county – be it residence, business or pleasure – when leaving their vehicle for any period of time, they should remove everything, secure their vehicle and lock it.


Issued: 9 July 2015

vehicle crime poster