Warning over spate of thefts in the North-east

People around the North-east are still leaving doors open for criminals, failing to heed warnings about crime prevention, a top police officer has said.

Aberdeen Division Chief Inspector Garry Senff has renewed Grampian Police’s appeals for residents to lock their homes and secure their property.

High value and powerful cars continue to be stolen from insecure homes, and eleven people were charged with related offences last weekend alone.

One of those included a 12-year-old boy who allegedly stole and drove a Honda and an Audi dangerously around the city.

Since the start of October 2012, 86 people in Aberdeen City and Shire have been charged in connection with car thefts. Of those, 13 are under the age of 16.

Police are sending out the message that an open door is an open invitation, and two victims of sneak-in car thefts have warned homeowners not to be complacent.

Since October, over 100 cars worth £1million have been stolen, in over 90% of cases using the ignition keys for the vehicle.

Most new cars are very difficult to start without the ignition key, leading criminals to attempt to obtain the key by whatever means possible.

The value of cars recovered so far is around £900,000, but that does not reflect the upset and inconvenience caused to their owners, which could have been easily avoided.

Chief Inspector Senff said: “The message is simple. Don’t leave your doors unlocked and give criminals an open invitation, because they will take advantage of the opportunity.

“Nobody wants a stranger raking through their personal belongings while they and their family lie asleep, let alone making off with one of their most valuable possessions.

“A car is one of the most expensive items people buy. It’s what transports them to work and their children to school, and to risk losing it by leaving the keys in view behind an unlocked door, or in the ignition of an unlocked car, is astonishing.

“But that’s exactly what has been happening in many cases, and while we will continue to trace, arrest and charge suspects for these crimes, a few simple steps by the public could stop them happening in the first place.

“We need the support of the public in preventing crime and some simple things like locking your car, your home and keeping your keys somewhere safe and out of sight will help to deter criminals from making you the next victim. If you have security devices you should use them.

“These are the same messages we have been giving out for some time, but frustratingly people seem to think it won’t apply to them and they end up offering easy access to criminals. Everyone has a responsibility to safeguard their own property, and while we can, and will, investigate crimes like this and attempt to recover property, it is far better to prevent yourself becoming a victim than regret it after the event.”

No one area or town is being targeted, with the thieves moving from area to area to find suitable targets, often in the early hours of the morning or even through the day.

If you want to report a crime, or want advice on how to keep your property secure, contact Grampian Police on 0845 600 5 700.