Vehicles carrying sophisticated surveillance equipment have been given to Beds Police by Luton-based Vauxhall Motors to help the fight against car thieves and those who deal in stolen parts.
The Force’s dedicated Operation King initiative has seen the force working in close co-operation with the car giant in recent times.
Police say Vauxhall has “a great track record” of supporting officers’ continued efforts to fight crime – and the surveillance cars are being used specifically in covert operations and in the tracking of stolen components.
Since December a total of 22 arrests have been made in relation to the theft of Vauxhall vehicle parts, in particular from the popular Corsa model.
Targeted vehicles associated with offences are also being stopped and in some cases seized, while officers have been successful in withdrawing car insurance policies from key suspects because of their link to criminal activity.
In addition the force has secured a conviction for the handling of stolen goods in relation to Vauxhall thefts. In December, a 26-year-old man from Luton, was charged with handling stolen goods after being linked to a stolen Astra in Luton.
Operation King’s work also featured in BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow which has contributed to an improved flow of information and intelligence for the force.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Middleton of the Force intelligence department said: “We are making significant progress with the assistance of Vauxhall and the use of technology to tackle this prolific problem in Bedfordshire.
“Regrettably the popularity of Vauxhall cars and their Corsa models in particular means that there is still a strong market for stolen vehicle parts and we continue to experience offending.
“Our message remains the same: We need people to tell us where the outlets for these components are, and I would urge the public only to buy vehicle components from certified vehicle parts stockists.
“We want to increase awareness among the public of these crimes and encourage them to report any illegal or suspicious activity, in order to help us catch those responsible and cut off the practice at its roots.”
Also as part of Operation King, there is work ongoing to distribute car part marker packs to repeat victims and to educate vehicle owners about security and safety.
Advice to car owners
- Ensure all car doors and windows are locked and any alarm or immobiliser features are enabled when left overnight
- Security mark car parts using commercially-available product markers
- Consider fitting steering wheel locks when leaving the vehicle
- Use only a reputable and approved parts supplier and seek confirmation from them that any replacement items are legitimately sourced
- Anyone with information about these offences is urged to call police on 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111