No justice in almost 95% of car crime in Suffolk, police figures show
- Credit: Archant
Little more than 5% of car crime in Suffolk over the last three years has resulted in an offender being charged - with the rest going unsolved, statistic have revealed.
Suffolk Constabulary reported just 105 criminal charges for crimes such as car theft, stealing from a vehicle and criminal damage to a vehicle - despite 1,935 offences being committed from September 2015 to 2019.
The offences include aggravated vehicle taking, where a car is taken without consent and the offender drives dangerously, injures people or damages other property.
Detective Superintendent David Henderson, of Suffolk Constabulary, said there were challenges in bringing offenders to justice.
"One of the main challenges when investigating motor vehicle offences is that forensic opportunities can be limited," he said.
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"For example, an offender can wear gloves and quite often only cash is stolen, which is difficult to trace.
"Another factor is that thefts predominantly occur during the hours of darkness. This limits CCTV opportunities."
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DS Henderson said victims might sometimes delay reporting the incident, meaning the opportunity to catch the offender has often disappeared.
There was a peak in car crime in autumn 2018, when there were 122 thefts from vehicles between September and December - but just two charges.
DS Henderson said there are many measures people can take to beat car thieves, such as removing valuables, fitting security devices and always locking a vehicle, even if being left for just a few minutes.
Diana Fawcett, chief executive of Victim Support, is keen for people to understand the impact car crime can have.
She said: "It is vital that everything possible is done to bring offenders to justice.
"The fact that this is happening in so few cases is a cause for concern.
"We know from our experience of supporting victims that the impact of car crime goes beyond just the financial loss.
"It can leave victims feeling less safe and secure and in many cases they are not just losing a car, but also their ability to get around, manage to get to work, drop children at school or attend health appointments, for example, which can cause real hardship."
How to keep your car safe: Advice from Suffolk Constabulary
- Remove all valuables and take them with you or lock out of sight including wallets and purses. Be sure to keep contactless debit cards with you at all times.
- Remove portable sat navs and holders from the windscreen and wipe the residue circle from the screen, as this could indicate you have hidden the unit in the car.
- Keep your keys safe with you at all times.
- Fit security devices such as an electronic immobiliser, mechanical immobiliser, vehicle alarm, or locking wheel nuts.
- Have your vehicle registration number etched onto all glass surfaces.
- Mark valuables with your surname, door number and postcode with police approved SmartWater www.smartwater.com or Selecta DNA forensic products www.selectadna.co.uk
- Lock all doors - close the sunroof and all windows every time you leave your car, even if it is just for a few minutes.
- Use your garage and always lock it as well as your car. If you do not have a garage, try to park in a well-lit place or somewhere that is in good view of passers-by.
- When you park your car away from home, try to avoid places that are unattended, have easy access and are out of public view.
- Do not move or use your car if you suspect a theft has taken and report it as soon as you can so that officers can obtain as much vital evidence as possible.
- Report anything suspicious as soon as possible to police on 101 or on 999 if it is a crime in progress.