A new police crackdown aimed at driving down vehicle crime is under way in South Yorkshire.
Officers involved in a week of action, which started yesterday, are using a ‘sting’ car kitted out with CCTV cameras to catch offenders in the act.
Photos of criminals caught on cameras will be circulated to officers to identify and be arrested.
The sting cars have valuables left on display, including mobile phones and computers, which are fitted with tracking devices to help police locate thieves and those buying stolen goods.
Sting cars are being positioned across South Yorkshire in a bid to tempt prolific offenders prowling the streets looking for valuables left on show.
Automatic numberplate recognition cameras are checking vehicles looking for known offenders and police are being set up on a number of roads for officers to check vehicles to look for stolen goods.
Secondhand shops are also being visited to try to identify stolen goods which have been sold on.
Police officers, PCSOs and special constables are carrying out high-profile patrols and issuing crime prevention advice, while unmarked police cars are patrolling crime hotspots.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Singleton, South Yorkshire’s lead officer for overseeing the war on vehicle crime, said: “We intend to make it extremely difficult for car criminals to operate within South Yorkshire.
“There will always be that nagging doubt in the mind of the thief that this might be one of South Yorkshire’s sting vehicles.
“With this in mind, residents can help us too by securing their vehicles and removing property from display.
“More than half of all vehicle crime is as a result of property being left on open display or failure to lock the vehicle.”
The week-long crackdown forms part of Operation Lockdown, which was launched in response to an increase in vehicle crime and burglaries across South Yorkshire.
Recent figures released by South Yorkshire Police revealed a two per cent increase in burglaries and car crime in South Yorkshire between April and August – with 2,923 burglaries and 5,054 vehicle crimes reported.
More than 130 arrests have been made so far as part of Operation Lockdown.
Chief Inspector Iain Chorlton is heading up Operation Lockdown and said: “While we are already reducing vehicle crime across South Yorkshire, there is still more to do, and that’s what this week of action is all about.
“Operation Lockdown, which was launched at the beginning of October, is about clamping down on burglary and vehicle crime. This week, though, is specifically about vehicle crime, and offences such as thefts of vehicles and thefts from vehicles.
“We aim to disrupt criminal activity through intelligence-led policing and also gain further intelligence on mobile criminals, especially those crossing county borders.
“The message to those criminals is – we will catch you.”
Chf Insp Chorlton said officers want information on those committing car crimes and those buying or selling stolen goods.
“In addition to gathering intelligence on offenders and those buying and selling stolen goods we are using a range of tactics to stop the increase in offences,” he said.
“One of the things we are doing is checking that vehicles are locked and if they are not we will knock on doors to tell their owners they are at risk of getting broken into.
“In one patrol in Doncaster 78 cars were checked and 19 were unlocked.”