ARMED police will escort security vans carrying cash through South Yorkshire in the run-up to Christmas and New Year to deter robbers.
The special patrols have been agreed by the county’s police chiefs to step up the fight against violent ‘cash-in-transit’ robberies.
There are fears vans could be more vulnerable over the festive period when they are traditionally busier.
South Yorkshire Police chiefs have asked officers on patrol on the region’s roads to follow any cash-in-transit vehicles they see taking cash to and from banks, post offices, supermarkets, betting shops and garages.
The patrols will form part of an operation to ‘target, deter and disrupt the activities of professional criminals’ responsible for violent raids on security vans.
Police involved in the operation have even interviewed criminals in prison for robbing cash vans, to obtain an insight into their methods and tactics.
They have also worked with the British Security Industry Association to protect staff delivering and collecting cash as well as offering reassurance to people working in the commercial banking and security industries.
The operation will involve the use of overt and covert CCTV monitoring - and the police helicopter will shadow cash vans from the air.
SmartWater spray devices and other anti-theft systems will be hidden in cash vehicles across South Yorkshire.
If any vans are raided the perpetrators will be showered with an invisible substance with a unique DNA-type code to help police match robbers to offences.
Detective Constables Ron Day, involved in the operation, said: “The public should not be concerned if they see police officers escorting security staff. This operation is a deterrent to criminals and indicative of our commitment to public safety.
“We have reviewed our tactical deployments of officers over the festive period to achieve maximum impact.
“South Yorkshire Police is committed to safeguarding people in the security industry from these criminals, who do not hesitate to use violence, and we will keep the operation running into the New Year.”
DC Nina Kitchener, who is also involved, added: “Officers have interviewed criminals in prison for this type of offence, to obtain an insight into their methods and tactics.
“This operation sends a clear message to criminals that if you come to South Yorkshire to commit this type of crime you will be caught and prosecuted.
“Police and other agencies have been successful in prosecuting highly organised criminal gangs travelling from other areas of the country. All offenders prosecuted at Sheffield Crown Court have received custodial sentences.”
Steve Hurst, head of Safercash - a security initiative operated by the British Security Industry Association - said: “Cash-in-transit attacks remain a major problem across the UK and working with forces such as South Yorkshire we are determined to reduce this threat and to make the cash-handling industry as secure as possible.
“Cash-in-transit robberies cause injury and trauma to couriers just going about their work, and also put the public at risk, so it is extremely important this crime is combated. We urge people to help by reporting suspicious activity, particularly in the busy run-up to Christmas.”