‘When are we going to stamp out tool thefts in Leighton Buzzard?’

A large stash of stolen tools seized by Thames Valley Police last month
A large stash of stolen tools seized by Thames Valley Police last month

Fed up tradesmen are calling out the rising tide of van break-ins and tool thefts in Leighton Buzzard and the surrounding area.

There have been dozens of reported van break-ins since January, and now a Facebook group ‘Leighton Buzzard against van thieves’ has been set up to raise awareness about the problem.

One of the tradesmen affected told the LBO there are a large number of vans being broken into by a gang stealing tools in Leighton and Dunstable.

There were three reports of van break-ins in the space of an hour last week in Ashburnham Crescent, Linslade.

“I was always taught that when you take someone’s tools, you take away their ability to earn a living,” said the man. “It’s one of the worst things you can do.

“A lot of vans have been broken into, the thieves put a grip on the driver’s door and after turning it, it opens all of the other locks.”

The man claims that car manufacturers aren’t interested in changing the security element of the vehicles, with replacement locks costing around £80.

He added: “My van was broken into around four months ago, they stole £1,500 worth of tools. I notified the police, who said they needed to know the serial numbers of the tools.

“My friend’s tools have also been stolen and the insurance company wouldn’t pay without receipts, which is hard for older tools.”

Many stolen tools recovered by police are later auctioned off online unless the original owner is traced.

The man added: “I can understand the police can’t afford to pay someone full-time to try and reunite tools with their owner, but to auction them just seems wrong.”

Speaking on the subject at Thursday’s policing meeting, Beds Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway described it as “a traditional problem in the town” given the quick getaway offered by the A5.

The PCC asked the audience to consider the deterrent factor of notices which are widely used stating that “no valuables or equipment are contained in this vehicle overnight” and confirmed that, as the owner of a small business herself in the past, she would not have left the equipment on which her livelihood depended anywhere in an unattended car or van.

She said “This is not, of course, passing the buck for such thefts to victims and this is why there has been such a push to target vehicle thefts by the Community Hub Team.”