Thieves stealing valuables from cars are targeting Leeds because the city is seen as “easy pickings”, police have said.
A summer spike in goods being snatched from vehicles prompted a crackdown called Operation Armour on Friday. (August 16)
Dozens of officers were involved in carrying out arrests of known offenders and raids on premises suspected of harbouring stolen goods across Leeds.
Det Sgt Chris Craven, of the northwest Leeds proactive crime team, said: “What we have found is that, through the summer months, thefts from motor vehicles have risen.
“When you look at the details of the offences, a lot of them have been committed because the owner has left their car unlocked or with valuables on display.
“People are being more relaxed about their security in the warm weather and the thieves are realising that and coming into the area because it’s easy pickings.”
While most crime in Leeds has fallen year-on-year, between April and July this year there were 146 more thefts from vehicles than during the same period last year – a rise of eight per cent.
On Thursday night 11 such crimes were recorded in Armley alone.
Results of yesterday’s operation were still being collated last night, but several arrests had been made and a number of search warrants were executed.
At one property police found the remains of a new Land Rover Freelander, thought to be stolen.
Det Sgt Craven said most thefts from cars were “opportunistic” rather than planned.
“Thieves will walk down a street trying the door handles on all the cars until they find one that’s unlocked,” he said.
“There are very few incidents where windows are being smashed and vehicles searched on the off chance there is something inside.”
As well as items like sat-navs and laptops being stolen, there has also been a growing number of incidences of tools being stolen from the vans of tradespeople.
In some cases entire van loads of goods have been stolen while the driver has been out working.
As well as yesterday’s operation, police are also using tactics developed from research into burglaries to try to predict where and when thefts from cars are likely to happen.
Det Chief Insp Fran Naughton, who was overseeing Operation Armour for the whole of Leeds, said: “We accept there has been a bit of a rise in vehicle crime and this operation is designed to tackle it.
“Days like this are an opportunity for us to have a real blitz.”