Theft from motor vehicle crime series update
My name is Alex Dopadlik and I am a Police Officer working in the Criminal Investigation Department for South Cambs Police based at Cambourne Police Station. I write to provide an update on an issue from last year and to provide some simple crime prevention advice that can help you from becoming a victim of crime in the future, as theft from motor vehicles are still occurring.
In the latter half of 2016 Police investigated a spree of thefts from motor vehicles and attempted thefts from vehicles in the villages in South Cambs. Namely Great and Little Shelford, Harston, Hauxton and Stapleford. Some of you may recall this, either having unfortunately fallen foul of this spree of offending or hearing from friends and neighbours of their own misfortune.
Beginning in April 2016 and sustained over a period of around 7 weeks, there were 41 recorded offences of either theft from a motor vehicle or attempted theft from a motor vehicle. This series of offences represented a significant spike in this type of offence in the local area.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these offences when looked at individually, yielded no lines of enquiry for us as the offences had occurred overnight, there were no witnesses and many victims did not have CCTV. While a specialist scenes of crime officer is normally despatched to this type of offence, no forensic evidence was recovered. However, fortunately one home owner did have CCTV from one of the offences, which gave us a suspect and this person was identified and arrested.
Following the arrest of the suspect and a lengthy investigation process, the male was summonsed to court for the offence of vehicle interference. The man pleaded guilty in November 2016 and was fined significantly.
After the suspect was arrested in June, there was a significant decline in the number of thefts from motor vehicle offences in these villages. There were only 14 recorded offences over the next 4 months. I believe this rapid decline in offences was caused by the police identifying the individual who was offending in the area and bringing him to justice.
In times of increasing demand on Policing and on public services in general, it is increasingly important that we aim to prevent offences occurring in the first place. Most vehicle crime is preventable. To quote a common cliché “Prevention is always better than cure”. It is never possible to guarantee the security of your vehicle against a professional criminal, however a large number of offences are committed by opportunists who take advantage of lax security or take a chance on high value items left on display.
You can take simple steps to reduce your vulnerability to acquisitive crime. A criminal is more likely to target vehicles and homes where there is high value or easy property to steal. The criminal must also have an opportunity to commit the offence.
The good news is that you can do something about this by making your vehicles and homes less of a target to a criminal and by reducing the opportunities available for them to commit crime against your property.
Lock your car! It may seem obvious but a large number of reported thefts involve unlocked vehicles. Recently, cars have become very difficult to break into. Simply locking the doors drastically reduces the ability of an opportunistic criminal to target your vehicle. Ensure all doors, windows and sunroofs are shut and locked. Make sure that the electronic locking has worked by manually checking the doors.
Remove all valuables from the vehicle overnight. Don’t leave items on display. Don’t make your vehicle a target! If you have parked away from home, at least ensure the valuables are not on display. Remove sat-nav or phone cradles and try not to leave marks on the windscreen showing that they have been in the vehicle.
Don’t keep unnecessary documentation in the car, registration documents, insurance certificates etc.
Try and park in a garage or public car park if you can, if not, at least in a well-lit area.
If your car does not already have one, consider an alarm. Also consider a sticker showing that the vehicle is protected by one.
Never leave house keys unattended inside your vehicle. Even if parked away from home, if keys and ID documents are discovered you may find your home could be targeted.
South Cambridgeshire remains one of the safest places to live in the UK and Cambridgeshire Constabulary remains committed to keep Cambridgeshire safe through safeguarding the vulnerable, attacking criminality, preventing crime and reassuring the public.
Visit www.cambs.police.uk for more information on protecting yourself from criminals. Call the 101 non-emergency number to report crime. Call 999 in an emergency when there is crime in progress or risk to personal safety.
PC 580 Alex Dopadlik – Serious Crime Team – CID – Cambourne Police Station – email – firstname.lastname@example.org