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Dramatic increase in number of van thefts

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Organised criminal gangs are responsible for the sudden rise in the number of vans being stolen from the streets of West Yorkshire.

Statistics show that between September last year and March this year, 368 vehicles were reported stolen across the county. 121 were taken in Leeds alone during the seven month period.

A particularly attractive target for thieves are Ford Transit vans – which account for seven out of ten thefts.

The region’s police believe that crooks are breaking up the vans for parts that they can sell on.

Det Chief Insp Steve Thomas is leading Operation Hewton, an initiative to find and prosecute those responsible for the rising number of offences.

“[The problem] centres around a small organised crime group,” he said. “There are distinct groups in Leeds and Bradford that are driving this.

“They are either cloning keys or using skeleton keys – a locksmith’s type key – to get in, while using jamming equipment to block the signal for the immobiliser and alarm system and are getting away without leaving any broken glass or taking the owner’s key.”

Owners are being urged to park their vehicle in well-lit areas, make use of steering wheel locks and ensure that tools or other valuables are never left on display.

At Lester Morrill, our criminal law team has considerable experience of advising and representing clients facing charges for vehicle theft. To find out more about how our Leeds-based solicitors can help you, please contact us.

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