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Police warn hauliers over thefts

PUBLISHED: 18:15 24 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:42 03 March 2010

THIEVES plaguing Felixstowe port have been spotlighted in police briefings to hauliers on improving security.

With lorry thieves targeting Felixstowe's port area on average once a month, the advice is timely.

THIEVES plaguing Felixstowe port have been spotlighted in police briefings to hauliers on improving security.

With lorry thieves targeting Felixstowe's port area on average once a month, the advice is timely.

Police chiefs are now trying to co-ordinate a major seminar to try to crack down on the problems.

Nine trucks and their loads – worth millions of pounds – have vanished from haulage yards this year.

They are eager that the criminal gangs behind the thefts do not begin to see the portside business parks as an "easy touch" and the problem escalate.

Felixstowe police commander Insp Andy Bushell said officers were working with community safety and crime reduction staff to put together the event.

"We want all the main players on board, including the port police, Truckwatch and the Road Haulage Association, and all the haulage companies," he said.

"We have to try to find a way to reduce the opportunity for these gangs and to work together on this.

"It may be that the best way forward is to try to establish a minimum standard for security for the yards – such as you would for other facilities – and then encourage everyone to put those measures in place.

"I am sure no-one wants Felixstowe to be considered an easy target and it is not at the moment.

"The security we have here is far better than in many other port areas but there are always improvements we can make. Everyone needs to consider those options carefully because we do not want these thefts escalating."

Many firms have improved security, installing CCTV, gates and extra lighting to depots, and employing security firms. But this has left other firms more at risk.

This year thieves have stolen consignments of hi-fi systems, beer, vodka, designer clothes, pushchairs bed linen, crayons and wooden trays.

In one incident, three boxes were taken from the Pentalver yard in Blofield Road, when a security guard was also kidnapped.

Police believe the thefts are far from random and feel sure many thieves are acting on inside information, and carrying out their own surveillance.

Within hours of a heist, the cargo is split into many smaller parts and is en route to other parts of the country as part of a well organised distribution network.

The Road Haulage Association says more than £500m of trucks and goods are stolen each year, with more than 3,000 loads never recovered.

Investigations into each theft can take up huge numbers of man-hours for the police as their search takes them nationwide.

The thefts also have a downside for the hauliers as losses can harm reputations, disrupt business, and put up insurance premiums.

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