‘Stop the van thefts’

The Scarborough News - - FRONT PAGE - by Martina Moscariello [email protected] Twit­ter: @m__­moscariello

A busi­ness­man in Scar­bor­ough is back­ing a cam­paign urg­ing the Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce tougher penal­ties on van tool thieves, whose ac­tions are putting thou­sands of busi­nesses at risk. John Wood is a plumb­ing and heat­ing en­gi­neer from Cay­ton.

He ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of van tool theft when his own van was bro­ken into and emp­tied of all its con­tents.

He said: “I came home, parked the van up, went in and got changed and in the space of half an hour my van had been emp­tied, and this wasn’t at night, it was broad day­light.

“They stole around £7,000 worth of tools and in­sur­ance only paid us about a grand. At the time I had some money I’d saved up to go on hol­i­day with my fam­ily so I used that, but not ev­ery­one can af­ford to re­place their tools and if it hap­pened again I wouldn’t know what to do.”

Since the in­ci­dent, which he took over a year to re­cover from, John has joined thou­sands of trades­men across the coun­try in a fight to raise aware­ness of the crime and call for au­thor­i­ties to do more to stop it.

A pe­ti­tion that was launched only last month has al­ready reached 36,000 sig­na­tures. It is also backed by TV pre­sen­ter Nick Knowles who branded the prob­lem a “plague”.

John added: “In Cay­ton

we’ve had three vans ripped open in just one night, it’s a mas­sive is­sue and the im­pact on peo­ple’s liveli­hood is huge.

“At the mo­ment this kind of crime is classed as ‘theft from mo­tor ve­hi­cle’ but it’s much more than that, it ru­ins your life.

“It’s putting peo­ple out of busi­ness be­cause it’s not just the tools that get stolen but also the dam­age that they do to your van.”

Ac­cord­ing to John, of­fi­cers need to do more to tackle the crime, which he says hap­pens re­gard­less of whether or not tools are taken out of ve­hi­cles.

“Po­lice don’t tend to at­tend this kind of re­port and all you’re left with is a crime ref­er­ence num­ber.

“For us it is a con­stant worry, ev­ery day I think ‘is it go­ing to hap­pen again?’ and ‘what hap­pens if it does?’

“It’s not yobs that do this, it’s or­gan­ised crime and all the tools that get stolen end up on­line on sites like eBay and Ama­zon.

“I know the po­lice have a tough job but they need to do more to in­ves­ti­gate.”

Ear­lier this year five men from West York­shire were jailed for a com­bined 10 years for tar­get­ing a to­tal of 14 vans in Scar­bor­ough, Whitby and Bridling­ton.

De­spite this, North York­shire Po­lice says the num­ber of in­ci­dents in the Scar­bor­ough district is de­clin­ing.

Fig­ures show a to­tal of 13 re­ports in the 2016/2017 fi­nan­cial year, which dropped to nine in 2017/2018.

A spokesman from the force said: “While the num­ber of thefts of tools and ma­chin­ery from work vans in the Scar­bor­ough area is rel­a­tively low and ap­pears to be on a down­ward trend, we fully un­der­stand the detri­men­tal im­pact it can have on the liveli­hoods of trades­peo­ple.

“As with any other busi­ness, home or ve­hi­cle owner, it is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial that ev­ery mea­sure is taken to keep op­por­tunis­tic thieves at bay.

“This in­cludes park­ing in well-lit and CCTV cov­ered ar­eas, en­sur­ing ap­pro­pri­ate locks and alarms are fit­ted to ve­hi­cles and keep­ing valu­able items out of sight.

“If the van is parked at home or left out­side busi­ness premises, al­ways make sure the tools and ma­chin­ery are taken out ev­ery night and left in a se­cure place.

“Im­por­tantly, if the worst should hap­pen, make sure that tools and ma­chin­ery are prop­erty marked with a sys­tem such as dot peen. That way the po­lice will have a bet­ter chance to re­cover the stolen items and re­turn them to their right­ful own­ers.

“We also urge peo­ple to re­port sus­pi­cious be­hav­iour on 101 so the po­lice can in­ves­ti­gate.

“Al­ways dial 999 if a crime is in progress and an emer­gency re­sponse is re­quired.”

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