Police target cinema car park thieves
MOTORISTS are being urged not to turn their vehicles into a “shop window” for thieves after a spate of thefts at a city car park.
There have been four car breakins at the Showcase Cinema car park in Boongate, Peterborough in the last two weeks and 65 since last June.
To encourage drivers to keep their sat navs, bags and other valuables out of sight, police patrolled the car park yesterday speaking to people about how to protect themselves from becoming another statistic.
In just a few minutes, officers spotted 12 cars stuffed with items including sat nav holders, DVDs, handbags and coats.
Cambridgeshire Police community safety and licensing team leader Debbie Sampson said: “It’s so frustrating because we are putting out these messages but cars are still getting broken into.
“Two cars were targeted earlier this week and two more last week.
“I would really plead with people to help us. If people stop leaving things on display and deter break-ins, then we can concen- trate on investing in other, more serious areas.”
She said they had chosen the half-term holidays to carry out the patrol because the car park was busier and more likely to have cars with items left in full view of would-be crooks.
As well as offering advice, police also handed motorists small cards to put in their windscreens, saying “All valuables have been removed from this vehicle”.
Ms Sampson said another obstacle they had come across was persuading Showcase Cinema’s management to work with them.
She said: “We’ve had quite a lot of meetings with management but they are very reluctant to put big signs up warning people because it could put people off.”
Several other factors mean the location can be a target for thieves. Ms Sampson added: “They know people will park here and are gone for a couple of hours when they go and see a film. There are also escape routes on foot and it is easy to drive in and out.
“The only security is on at night-time although there is CCTV.”
Avril Barnes, from Bourne, spoke to police after watching a film with her children and said it had focused her mind.
She said: “I wasn’t aware there was a problem. Some areas are renowned for being places where things are stolen but I didn’t know it was a big issue here.
“It made me realise I need to think more about what I do leave behind. I had left my phone in the car, although it wasn’t on display.”
In the past month, police have stepped up patrols in city car parks and written to owners of cars where items were left on display.
Ms Sampson said people need to take responsibility for their actions. She said: “People don’t think it will happen to them and they are often in a hurry.
“But if they have their car window smashed it’s not just about what’s taken, it’s the claim on the insurance and it takes a while to get it fixed.
“People we have spoken to say it has made them think. Speaking to someone face-to-face is sometimes better than sending a letter.”
CHECKS: Community safety officer Tracy Holyoake looks at cars in the car park in Fengate. (METP-02-06-10GM039)