Don’t give thieves a happy Christmas

Items left on show
Items left on show
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Vehicles were left insecure and thousands of pounds’ worth of items were left on display in parked cars across South Yorkshire.

The goodies were discovered by South Yorkshire Police officers during a one-day blitz on car crime.

Officers found:

28 car stereos, nine sat navs and cash in Sheffield

Wrapped Christmas presents, computer, money, tools, house keys, handbags, sports bags and an iPod in Barnsley

A 46-inch flat-screen TV; two new Hoovers, a new guitar, back seat full of Thorntons chocolate, seat full of wedding accessories - bouquet, photo album, cup cakes etc in Rotherham

36 car stereos, six mobile phones, eight sat navs, 13 sat nav cradles, four handbags, iPad, gift card and receipt, credit card, ladies shoes, football boots and Christmas crackers in Doncaster

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Singleton, the force’s lead on vehicle crime, said: “This is an absolute gift for criminals and we have got to make it harder for them.

“At a time when money is tight for people I don’t want them having to go out and buy their Christmas presents all over again.

“This was a one-day operation but we are finding this is happening every single day.

“At a time when resources are shrinking and there is a greater demand on our time, officers are spending an inordinate amount of time on this when their time could be better spent on other things.”

DCI Singleton said around 90 per cent of vehicles on the county’s streets were left insecure or with valuables on show.

“We need members of the public to help us stop these criminals, we have got to make it harder for them,” he said.

“I would ask motorists to consider what their insurance companies would say if they knew the extent of the lack of security they have shown in terms of the property left on display.

“I wish I could say I am surprised by what the officers found but I’m not.

“My message to the public is please help us.

“We need to make it more difficult for the thieves.”

Police staff tweeted live from car parks and residential streets each time a ‘vulnerable’ vehicle was located.

They visited residential streets at Broomhill and Crookesmoor in Sheffield, Parkgate in Rotherham, County Way, Morrisons and the central multi-storey car park in Barnsley, and Frenchgate and the market area in Doncaster.

They found up to 20 vehicles were either unlocked or had windows open.

In Rotherham, one car had its boot wide open with items on show.

PCSOs reached the vehicle before thieves and a tannoy message was put out asking the owner to return.

A force spokeswoman said in Doncaster one vehicle had a sat nav on show with both windows ajar, making it very tempting for thieves.

A locked car in Barnsley was left with both windows open and an Xbox and presents on the back seat.

She added: “We also found a car left insecure while its owner was at a cash point and another vehicle was unlocked with a CD playing and presents on the back seat.”

Officers also discovered a passport and confidential documents on display and in another car a sewing machine was on show.

Officers checked over 3,000 vehicles and found only a small proportion were secure.

PCSOs also provided crime prevention advice and distributed thousands of leaflets to motorists.