‘You need to help us help you’

Police Station : Phil Taylor and Mark Housley.

Police Station : Phil Taylor and Mark Housley.

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AT a time when police resources are reduced, officers are finding they are having to dedicate more and more time to making people aware they are leaving themselves vulnerable to thieves.

There are several operations currently underway in the Grantham area, all aimed at pointing out to people how easy a target they are.

Chief Inspector Mark Housley said he is frustrated by having to repeat calls for people to lock their cars, doors and windows, and to remove valuables from their motors.

In the last two weeks alone, 13 reports of thefts from vehicles in the Grantham area have been made - and 10 of these vehicles had been left unlocked.

Ch Insp Housley said: “I’m tired and tired and tired of going over the same thing. If people took valuables out of their cars we could cut crime by 25 per cent easily overnight.

“If I could recruit the population of Lincolnshire to take responsibility and work with us we can actually eradicate a lot of crime.”

Thieves who can get into a car by simply opening the unlocked door are highly unlikely to leave behind any evidence which could lead to a conviction.

Ch Insp Housley explained: “There are three things that lead to a conviction. The first is a confession, which we’re not going to get so throw that out of the window. The second is a witness statement. Well if the car door is unlocked they’ll make no noise and they’ll be out of there quickly so chances are there will be no witness.

“The third is forensics. If they have to smash the glass they’re more likely to leave something behind. They’re going to be there longer and make a noise which increases the chance of there being a witness.”

It is believed thieves are scouring streets in the town and surrounding villages trying the door handles of every car they come across.

Insp Taylor is asking people out and about to keep a watchful eye and report anything suspicious.

l Operation Handbrake aims to educate motorists on the dangers of leaving valuables on display.

Officers and police community support officers are tasked with keeping an eye out and informing those that have left valuables on show that they could have been a victim of crime.

Insp Taylor said: “If my PCSOs have to knock on a door at 3am and get someone out of bed to educate them then they’ll do it.”

Motorists are also continuing to leave expensive items in their glove compartments.

Insp Taylor said: “They’re taking sat navs, iPads - these things are probably Christmas presents. If people want to have these items then they’ve got to take precautions. It’s not rocket science that that’s where they’re going to be. It’s the first place they’re going to look.”

l Another item often handed to crooks on a platter is the bicycle.

Since December 1, 10 cycles have been reported stolen in the Grantham area.

Insp Taylor said: “Unfortunately, people are trusting that the fiends of Grantham will leave their unlocked bikes in their front garden or in sheds with no lock on them.”

l As part of Operation Big Foot, beat teams are keeping an eye out for open windows in properties, which could be used as a point of entry by crooks.

l Grantham has not managed to avoid metal thefts, a crime on the increase nationally. With the price of metal so high, thieves are on the look-out and will pinch “anything not fastened down”. Catalytic converters, gas boxes and lead flashing are among the items thieves will snatch given half the chance. Operation Brompton aims to increase awareness of how to protect property and encourage communities to be aware and report suspicious activity.

l To report a crime or anything suspicious, call Lincolnshire Police on 101.