Police warning as thieves target spare wheels on vans

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Police are urging motorists to take some extra steps to ensure that they don’t become a victim of crime following a recent spate of thefts on vans.

In the past few weeks there has been a steady increase in the number of large vans – particularly Ford Transits – which have had their spare wheel stolen. In the majority of cases, the wheel is housed underneath the vehicle and is only kept in place by straps.

Members of the public are being encouraged to park their vehicles in well-lit public areas and to be aware of any suspicious activity. Owners can also consider fitting additional locking straps to their vehicle along with fitting nuts and an undercarriage alarm.

Other simple measures that can be taken to reduce vehicle crime include:

If you have a garage, clear it out and park your vehicle in it – this will help prevent your car being specifically targeted if it is a desirable make and model.

Property marking cannot prevent your goods from being stolen but it is a very good deterrent as it is difficult to sell on stolen property that has been marked. It also allows the police to return recovered stolen goods to their rightful owner.

Mark your property with your house/flat number and postcode. If your property has a name, use the first 3 letters instead of the house number. Use a UV pen to invisibly mark items such as mobile phones, audio-visual equipment, cameras, etc. Other products on the market are SmartWater and microdot tagging systems.

Consider etching your windows and alloy wheels.

Remember to register your property on www.immobilise.com

If you have a steering wheel lock, then use it. There are many types on the market; the most popular are the ʻthread throughʼ style and the steering wheel shields. Make sure any product bought has the ʻSold Secureʼ brand of approval.

You can also buy locking wheel clamps – these are especially useful if the vehicle is to be left unattended for a long period (eg, while you are on holiday).

There are now a number of strong boxes that have been designed to fix into the boot of a car or the back of a van. These are particularly useful if you need to transport tools or expensive items as part of your work.

If you need to transport tools and equipment as part of your job, empty your vehicle every evening. It is also worth having a sign in your vehicle that states no tools are left in it overnight.

Make sure the area where you park your car is well-lit. If the parking area is on private property, you can use a domestic CCTV system.

Always empty your vehicle of property and – if your stereo has one - remove the fascia when you park up outside your home.

If you use a Sat Nav with a suction cradle, it is essential you not only remove the device but also the cradle and wipe the sucker ring mark off the glass. Thieves will be looking for tell-tale signs of in-car gadgets as they are small enough to pocket and fetch a good price.

Remember to check your insurance details – some home contents policies do not cover satellite navigation systems as they are classed as ʻvehicle accessoriesʼ.

If you have information relating to vehicle crime, contact Bedfordshire Police, in confidence, on the non-emergency 101 number, or text information to 07786 200011.

Alternatively contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or online at crimestoppers-uk.org