Elveden: Bike police team cut Center Parcs crime by 50%

BIKE theft at a top Suffolk tourist attraction has been slashed by 50% following the appointment of a dedicated officer.

Before police community support officer Suzy Ashford was sent in to tackle crime at Center Parcs, bike theft at the Elveden-based resort had become a significant problem.

In a two-year period between 2008 and 2010, the value of items stolen there was set at more than �270,000.

Crime levels have since dropped significantly. Since her patrols started last March, the site has seen a 50% reduction in cycle thefts, and a 46.9% reduction in overall crime.

Police say the success is down to the way they have approached the issue – by tackling crime with a dedicated off-road cycle team, of which PCSO Ashford is a part.

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Operating out of the Brandon Safer Neighborhood Team (SNT), and covering the whole Brandon area, the off-road cycle unit issues crime prevention advice to local residents and businesses and conducts high-visibility patrols for intelligence gathering and enforcement.

Headed by PCSO Ashford, the team is comprised by special constables who volunteer their free time to keep the community safer.

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She said: “As the area is largely made up of woodland we often need to cover a lot of ground at speed.

“The bicycles make this far easier and we are able to interact with members of the public at the same time too.”

The team works to reduce and tackle crime in a number of areas including Brandon Industrial Estate and also seeks to engage with the large cycling community in the area.

PCSO Ashford continued: “We work hard to promote crime prevention techniques to cyclists who use the woods and the surrounding area.

“Petty crime like bike thefts can often be avoided by taking a few simple precautions so we encourage people to security-mark their bicycles and we regularly hold free marking events. ”

The last security marking session held at the end of April saw 270 bikes marked at High Lodge, in Brandon, over the three days.

The next security marking session will be held at the Ride For Life cycle event at Santon Downham on Sunday.

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