More than 9,000 thefts from vehicles were reported in Sheffield in three years – but only 1.4 per cent of thieves were caught and charged.
Sheffield’s ‘shocking and disturbing’ top vehicle break-in hotspots have been revealed today.
Darnall was the area with the most break-ins in 2015, followed by Burngreave, Southey and Fulwood and Ecclesall.
Sheffield’s Southey councillor Tony Damms said: “I wasn’t aware that it was that sort of scale, and it’s quite shocking considering the technology of cars has got much better.
“I find it disturbing. There are less police officers in the area at the moment. I’m not sure what we can do about it on our own.”
South Yorkshire Police Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Delphine Waring admitted the figures are disappointing.
“I look at the data and I agree it speaks for itself. It does seem disappointing.
“I have to accept the figures are concerning.”
Motorists across Sheffield have been warned to be vigilant after it was revealed theft from cars went up six per cent year on year.
South Yorkshire Police stressed they take car break-ins ‘extremely seriously’ and are pushing for greater awareness about crime prevention among drivers.
More than 9,000 theft from motor vehicle offences were reported in Sheffield between 2013 and 2015 – but only 126 people have been charged with the crime, or 1.4 per cent.
South Yorkshire Police’s current policy is to get call handlers to assess a break-in over the phone. If call handlers cannot identify a ‘viable line of enquiry’, the case is closed and an officer is not sent out.
Car owners have been warned to remove valuables like sat-navs and stereos from vehicles in a bid to thwart thieves, as the number of crimes has increased six per cent in Sheffield year-on-year.
Sheffield councillor Steve Wilson, for East Ecclesfield, said: “It’s a police matter. However we can work with the police to make sure that people are locking their cars and aren’t leaving their valuables and possessions on display. We will make sure that people are aware of the dangers.”
City centre councillor Douglas Johnson added: “I do know that it’s an ongoing issue, especially on Green Lane. Police say that it’s a small number of people committing these crimes, one person can make a substantial difference to those figures. I would put the high number down to there being a lot of cars in the city centre.”
The figures show that 9,446 break-ins were reported in Sheffield in 2013, 2014 and 2015 combined, with 3,006 in 2015.
Last year, just 34 people out of those 3,006 were charged with a crime, a total of 1.1 per cent.
DCI Waring said: “Unless you have forensics, such as a fingerprint, blood, DNA from a drinks bottle, or there’s CCTV, or we find items being sold on, without a viable line of enquiry, it’s very difficult to identify offenders.
“If we had resources to send an officer to every single vehicle crime, that would be fantastic.
“But we have to trust the CRB operators, who are trained.
“But I accept that the figures are concerning.”
She said that some of the crimes were not charged separately, but ‘taken into consideration’ when later admitted by offenders who were being charged with other crimes.
Out of the 9,446 total break-ins, 148 were later admitted and ‘taken into consideration’.
Another 11 people were given a caution, and 15 people received a summons.
DCI Waring added: “The processes we have here in South Yorkshire are always being reviewed.
“And we have to manage the expectations of the victim. It’s just like burglary, it’s a very impactful crime.
“We always raise awareness around prevention. If we can be proactive in preventing the crime, we can reduce vehicle crime.
“We need to utilise the help of the public as well and ensure people are vigilant. So many of these crimes are opportunistic, when people see items left on display.
“It’s impactful and I am concerned and disappointed. We will always try to review our processes to see if there’s anything we can do.”
DCI Waring said Darnall as a police ward includes Valley Centertainment and Sheffield Arena, both with large car parks that skew the figures, while Burngreave includes the Northern General Hospital.
She added: “We are a really big city and we have a very dynamic visiting population that come into the city for events like Tramlines or things on at the Arena.
“We also have two huge football teams. Many of these visitors are probably coming with a vehicle.
“Offenders may target these areas and there is potential for us to increase patrols in these areas.”
Sheffield Neighbourhood Watch coordinator Wendy Zealand blamed police budget cuts for an increase in break-ins.
She said: “Police budget cuts have had a knock-on effect on crime, definitely.
“It’s had a knock-on effect on Neighbourhood Watch, so it’s definitely had an effect on crime.
“We are not getting the information from the police, so we can’t be as proactive as we should be.
“We have been given some equipment by the Police and Crime Commissioner to tackle vehicle problems including anti-tamper screws for number plates and large stickers to put on cars and vans saying ‘nothing left in this vehicle’.
“I passed a lot of it on the all the police stations but they don’t seem to be using it.
“Police talk about working with partner agencies – but only paid ones.
“We are not respected and we’re undervalued by the police.”
South Yorkshire Police asked members of the public to be vigilant against the crime.
DCI Waring added: “We do take vehicle crime extremely seriously and we appeal to the public about proactive prevention.
“We ask members of the community to be proactive in not leaving items on show, which could include leaving your glovebox open with nothing inside it, and don’t even leave a jacket in the car.
“At the moment we are trying to raise awareness around theft from vans. Marking property with UV pens is a good idea.
“We also work closely with other organisations and partners.
“We value the work that the Neighbourhood Watch teams do and building on that relationship is important to us.
“We rely on public intelligence to identify viable lines of enquiry.”
n Anyone with information about a crime should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.