Police say new tactics in battle on crime have helped cut number of vehicle thefts

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vehiclE crime in South Yorkshire is being driven down by officers visiting prolific offenders released from prison to warn them they are being monitored.

It is one of a number of ways police are trying to reduce car crime, with latest national figures showing on average across the UK one car is stolen every six minutes.

The figure was released by the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, which found in 36 days at the start of the year 9,000 cars were stolen.

AVCIS’ Car Crime Awareness Week runs until Friday, aimed at raising awareness of vehicle crime methods.

Latest figures available from South Yorkshire Police show that in 2010 there were 3,280 cars stolen across the county compared to 4,028 the year before – an 18.6 per cent reduction.

In the first four months of this year 1,091 vehicles were stolen compared to 1,154 in the same period the year before.

Det Chf Insp Sean Middleton, South Yorkshire’s lead officer for vehicle crime, said: “An 18 per cent drop is very good – it shows the work we are doing is still bearing fruit.”

He said tracking prolific offenders was one of the main ways of cutting car crime.

“All districts across South Yorkshire interact with prolific offenders and the probation service through the integrated offender management programme,” he said.

“We are aware of when people are released from prison and we visit them and make them aware that they are back on the police radar and that we are aware of where they are and what they are doing. I think that forms a big part of why we are doing well.

“No crimes are good, but we have an improving picture in South Yorkshire and hope that we are going to keep driving those figures down.”

The force also parks ‘sting cars’ – kitted with sophisticated tracking surveillance technology – on South Yorkshire’s roads aimed at catching car thieves in the act.