EXCLUSIVE: 30,000 cars stolen in South Yorkshire in six years

Car thief at work
Car thief at work
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ALMOST 30,000 vehicles have been stolen in the last six years in South Yorkshire – and only half have ever been seen again, The Star can reveal exclusively today.

Figures disclosed as part of our Your Right to Know campaign show that in the last month alone 222 vehicles have been stolen. In the previous 12 months, 3,035 were taken.

The Star’s campaign aims to turn the spotlight on the hidden facts and figures which affect readers’ everyday lives.

New police statistics show a total of 12,299 vehicles were stolen in Sheffield between 2006 and the end of last month.

In Rotherham the figure was 5,081, in Barnsley 4,297, and 7,697 in Doncaster – making a grand total of 29,374 over six years.

But the level of offending is reducing year on year.

In 2006 some 6,830 vehicles were stolen across the county, down to 6,105 in 2007.

That figure fell again to 5,468 in 2008, to 4,272 in 2009, to 3,442 in 2010 and down further to 3,035 last year.

But of all the vehicles stolen, only 58 per cent – a total of 16,996 – have been traced.

And the detection rate for police cracking vehicle crime offences between April and December last year was 19.6 per cent, with officers solving 396 of the 2,022 recorded thefts.

From the near-30,000 vehicles stolen over the six years, records show 7,816 were hatchbacks, 2,782 saloons, 1,286 estates, 328 convertibles and 290 sports cars.

Detective Chief Inspector Sean Middleton told The Star some vehicles are stolen to sell or to be broken up into spare parts.

But others are weighed in and sold simply for their scrap metal value.

He said as part of the police crackdown, officers have targeted the top 10 prolific offenders in each of the policing districts – Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster – and as a result have seen offences drop. Officers monitored the criminals’ movements and made them aware they were being watched.

Officers are also involved in covert operations and work with the vehicle crime intelligence service, run by the Association of Chief Police Officers. He said car crime crooks operated at all levels, ‘from organised groups who target and steal high value vehicles to sell on, to those who steal to break them up, to opportunist thieves who steal to fund a drug habit’.

He added: “It is more difficult to steal cars these days without a key, so that is why those involved often break into houses to get the keys. So we need people to do their bit by looking at their home security. It’s no good having a £1,000 front door if you have a £12 lock.

“People also need to keep their car keys out of sight.”

He also urged motorists to avoid the black market for second hand parts by buying only from official traders.

* Anyone with information about car thieves should call Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.