Police alert over thieves cutting into vans in 'upsetting double hit' to victims
Police have issued an alert to van owners after a spate of 'double hit' thefts where vehicles are damaged and then have items including licence plates stolen.
Officers have shared information on the methods the criminals use to raise awareness among owners and advise them to remove valuable items from their vans.
Police officer Adam Stobbart, of Leominster Police, said over the last weekend residents of the Shropshire border town saw an increase in vans being targeted and broken into as well as vehicle licence plates being stolen at the same time.
"Leominster Safer Neighbourhood Team have been conducting inquiries into these incidents but would like to bring the matter to the wider public's attention for awareness," said the officer.
Mr Stobbart said suspects have been noted to travel around the area, late evening to early hours of the morning, scouting for vans parked on the road or in car parking spaces near to residential properties.
"The suspects, who are opportunists are then going to these vans and making a hole in the metal side/rear doors to the vehicle, near to the locking mechanism," he said.
"There they are cutting the metal open enough to expose the working mechanism of the lock enabling them to manually open the door without the key, giving access to within."
Police say that on three occasions, these suspects were disturbed moments before they were going to gain access but unfortunately a fourth van did have tools taken from within.
Mr Stobbart added that the investigation is still ongoing and police are seeking to obtain any information that may help them in the matter.
"Furthermore if you see any vehicle acting suspiciously in the area, please call police on 999/101.
"If you are in a safe place and can get descriptions too, please let us know.
"Officers were out patrolling the area when the calls came in but unfortunately were not able to intercept anyone.
"Finally may I remind those that have personal/business vans to do their best to ensure that any valuable items or items that would cause great hindrance to you if taken are removed from vehicles when not in use, to reduce the risk of items being taken.
"I appreciate that the mere thought or sight of any form of damage to a vehicle is unwanted and upsetting but to lose items from within the vehicle as well, is a double hit and potentially more impactive."