Po­lice tar­get cin­ema car park thieves

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph - By ASHA ME­HTA

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)

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