Police are warning Stoke Gifford residents to make sure their cars and vans are locked when unattended following a spate of vehicle crime in the area.
Official statistics just released show that there were eight reported vehicle crime incidents within the Stoke Gifford beat area in December 2020, which is twice the monthly average for last year.
The December incidents took place on or near Hatchet Lane, on or near Kent Close (2), on or near Osbourne Close, at or near the Mile Straight Sports & Social Club (2), at or near Sainsbury’s supermarket and on or near Swallows Court.
Indications are that the surge in this type of crime has continued into 2021, with numerous reports of incidents being posted on social media during January. Locations mentioned include Whitley Mead, Sandringham Road, Richmond Avenue, Railton Jones Close and Ratcliffe Drive.
Several CCTV clips posted on social media show two or three individuals walking along roads, usually around midnight, “trying the doors” of parked vehicles.
The new year has also seen the local police beat team delivering leaflets to hundreds of homes in the Ratcliffe Drive area and around the ‘royal estate’ (Sandringham Road etc.), warning of recent vehicle crime incidents and offering crime prevention advice.
A neighbourhood watch circular issued on 5th January advised vehicle owners to ensure they “remove all valuables” and “consider taking additional security precautions”.
The latest police leaflet, delivered on 31st January, refers to an incident in Ratcliffe Drive on the night of 29th January in which a vehicle was “broken into” via a side door and tools stolen.
Whilst many reports in the public domain speak of vehicles being “broken into”, all cases that the Journal has examined have turned out to relate to vehicles that were almost certainly left unlocked – as there have been no signs of forced entry.
Rumours of key hacking being used in some of the incidents, a technique which allows thieves to simulate the radio waves emitted by an electronic key fob, have been played down by a police source.
The source added that victims may be reluctant to admit having left their vehicle unlocked as this potentially prevents them from making an insurance claim, e.g. for theft of contents.
In response to an enquiry from the Journal, a police spokesperson said:
“The issue is a priority for the neighbourhood team who are carrying out both high-visibility and plain-clothed patrols to try to tackle the problem.”
“Motorists can deter opportunist thieves by making sure their vehicle is cleared of valuables overnight and locked with the alarm set whenever it’s left unattended.”
“If you see someone behaving suspiciously around vehicles report it straight away. If you find you have such behaviour caught on dashcam, CCTV or smart doorbell footage, we want to hear from you.”
“If you hear a car alarm sounding do look out of the window and call us if you see someone running away.”
“If you have any information about those responsible for vehicle crime, or any dashcam or smart doorbell footage do get in touch.”
“Call 999 if you believe a crime is underway, otherwise ring 101.”
Non-urgent reports may also be submitted online via the Avon and Somerset Police ‘Report a crime or incident‘ webpage.
The neighbourhood police team may be contacted via a form on the Stoke Gifford beat webpage.