Just 1% of vehicle theft crimes in Ipswich result in someone being charged

Car theft and break in

Car theft and break in - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Just over 1% of vehicle theft crimes in a 15-month period in Ipswich resulted in charges, latest police statistics have revealed.

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws have shown that between June last year and August this year, Suffolk Constabulary had 1,414 reports of thefts of, or from, motor vehicles in Ipswich.

But just 19 people were charged as a result of those crimes – the equivalent of 1.3%.

Police also received reports of 1,158 incidents of criminal damage to vehicles during the same period, but only 68 of those resulted in someone being charged – a charge rate of 2.5%.

However, the figures do not include the number of ‘detections’ – where police have issued a warning or caution, or a community resolution has been reached.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “We recognise that having your vehicle damaged, stolen, or having items stolen from it can be upsetting, annoying and inconvenient, but it is often a difficult crime to solve without forensic evidence and witnesses, which is why we continually urge drivers to lock their vehicles and to remove all valuables before leaving cars and vans unattended, as this can make a real difference.

“Our crime scene investigators will try to attend as many incidents as they can if there is likely to be forensic evidence available.

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“As with any crime in progress, if you see anyone damaging a vehicle or breaking into it you should call police immediately using 999, no matter what the time of day or night.

“Officers are on patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will respond as quickly as they can.”

Foxhall Road was the area in Ipswich with the most reported thefts with 22, followed by Norwich Road and London Road, while the most criminal damage reports came from Bramford Road with 18.

It is not clear how many of those are individual incidents and how many were carried out by one person as a spree.

The police spokeswoman said: “The number of people charged does not reflect the number of offences detected as those caught for one-off incidents, first offences or crimes where there are other circumstances – such as the offender being a child for example – may be dealt with by community resolutions, cautions or warnings.

“One person charged may mean a number of offences have been detected – i.e. if someone smashes wing mirrors off a number of vehicles in a road, is arrested and charged with 20-plus offences this would still show as one person charged, but would not show how many crimes have been solved.”

In July last year, police bosses insisted they did take car crime seriously when an investigation into the 12 months up to May 2015 revealed a 2.5% charge rate for theft from vehicles, and less than 6% charged for vandalism in Ipswich.

But without witnesses or forensic evidence, car crimes were often difficult to solve, police added.

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore reiterated the police’s commitment to car crime, and urged everyone to take steps to reduce the chance of it happening to their vehicle.

“I know the constabulary takes this crime very seriously and continues to promote the ‘Close it, lock it, check it’ campaign to encourage drivers to ensure their parked vehicles are left locked and secure, with items out of view,” he said.

“We need to do all we can to protect our own property so it is important that we remove sat-navs, laptops, handbags and tools from unattended vehicles, it sounds so obvious but you’d be surprised how often cars are broken into because valuable items are left on view.

“Having a car broken into or damaged causes real distress and often hits our wallet as well, so I would echo the constabulary’s plea that if you see anyone damaging a vehicle or breaking into it you should call 999 immediately.”