Police continue to urge caution over car park thieves

Police warning to motorists
Police warning to motorists

CRIMINALS coming from outside West Sussex to break into cars can be stopped by the public, according to police.

A sharp rise in the number of cars broken into in beauty spot car parks around the Chichester district has been highlighted by police, who have already made two arrests in the battle to clampdown on the thefts.

“It’s a constant reminder to people that it takes a matter of seconds to break into people’s cars,” said Chichester district commander, chief inspector Justin Burtenshaw.

“Some people see this crime as an inconvenience but for some people it’s massively life changing.”

He added: “There are more than 400 beauty spot car parks and lay-bys in Chichester.

“It’s impossible to be consistently monitoring all of them.”

Since the spate was noticed earlier this year, police have launched Operation Mini, designed to target the criminals, and CCTV has been set up in a number of car parks.

“There are thieves out there. It’s an opportunity for them. Leaving stuff visible in your car is like leaving things unlocked,” added Ch Insp Burtenshaw.

“If you’re going out for a dog walk, don’t take your iPad and leave it in the car.”

Inspector Will Rolls of the Chichester Neighbourhood Policing Team agreed, adding thieves would visit areas where they thought there would be some easy targets.

“You can liken it to nature. Sharks return to the same feeding ground year on year, because they’re going to get the same meals.

“They know that on a sunny bank holiday weekend, people come and we need to break that chain.”

Chichester Police said it had made ‘significant arrests’ in the past few weeks, in relation to a couple of incidents that have been reported.

Criminals are reported to be coming from outside the county to commit these crimes, with police saying they were doing all they could to tackle it.

The chief inspector encouraged anyone who saw anything suspicious in a car park to get in touch straightaway by dialling 999.

“The real people that can stop this are the public,” he said.

Once a thief has broken into one vehicle in a car park, this can act as a ‘catalyst’ for them to break into other vehicles parked in the same place.

“Because they’ve done one, they might as well do three.

“What they want is an easy target,” said Ch Insp Burtenshaw.

Therefore, he said it was everyone’s responsibility to put thieves off from breaking into their car by not making it easy for them.

Recent figures showed that each month this year there has been an increase in the number of cars broken into in beauty spots throughout the entire district, in comparison with last year. Anyone who spots anything suspicious should call 999.