Revealed: Ipswich’s car crime hotspots

CCTV image released in connection with a recent vehicle crime in Ipswich Picture: CONTRIBUTED

CCTV image released in connection with a recent vehicle crime in Ipswich Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Car crime has risen sharply in Ipswich – and 98% of its perpetrators went unpunished.

Police figures show the number of crimes between January-July this year was up by almost a quarter on the same period in 2017.

Since August 2015, 3,200 vehicle crimes have been reported in Ipswich – but just 2% resulted in the perpetrator being found and prosecuted. Some remain under investigation, others were unable to proceed and in a number of cases formal action was deemed “not to be in the public interest”. However the most common outcome – accounting for around 85% of all cases – was that no suspect had been identified.

In the council wards of Sprites, Rushmere and St John’s, police failed to identify a suspect in more than 90% of cases.

The data also reveals that Foxhall Road, Norwich Road and Gower Street were the top three streets for vehicle crime.

Suffolk police said vehicle crime was challenging to investigate due to limited “forensic opportunities” and the tendency for crimes to happen at night when few people are around and light is poor for CCTV. Delays in victims reporting crimes also hindered opportunities, police said.

“Although we work hard to tackle the issues and raise awareness through our targeted campaigns, the majority of vehicle crime that we see is as a result of items being left on display which is an easy target for a criminal,” a spokesman added.

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“Don’t make it easy for them – take valuables with you.”

A recent Press Association investigation found vehicle crime nationally had reached its highest level in years – but 76% of cases resulted in no suspect identified.

Vehicle crime has increased in Ipswich Picture: MARIDAV/GETTY IMAGES

Vehicle crime has increased in Ipswich Picture: MARIDAV/GETTY IMAGES - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

These failures sparked criticism from Commons Home Affairs committee chairman Yvette Cooper MP who said criminals were being given a “green light to reoffend”. Alex Mayes, of charity Victim Support, said it could deter people from reporting crime.

In Ipswich, victims of vehicle crime have spoken of its massive impact on their lives.

Kelly Quigley was one of four people who had vehicles written off when a suspected stolen car left a trail of destruction along Kildare Avenue in the early hours of September 12. “That car was my lifeline,” she said.

Michael Livermore, who lost two vehicles on the same night, including a van he needs for work, said he felt “angry, sick and frustrated” by what had happened.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he shared victims’ frustration about any car crime and acknowledged the consequences can be “costly and inconvenient”.

However he added Suffolk police did their “very best” to solve the crimes “I hope those found guilty are given an appropriate sentence, which must act as a deterrent to others,” he added. “Collating the evidence is a considerable challenge but it’s imperative these crimes continue to be reported.”

Vehicle crime covers offences including stolen cars, criminal damage and theft from vehicles.

Last week, CCTV was released of a thief attempting to break-in to cars in Patteson Road, before smashing a window and making off with cash.

Damage caused by a suspected stolen car in Kildare Avenue Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Damage caused by a suspected stolen car in Kildare Avenue Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

People living in Ipswich reacted with reports of similar incidents.

Chelsie Pitman said her car was broken into on Thursday night, when a wallet containing cash and cards was stolen and later used at nearby shops. Despite having seen CCTV at one of the shops, she claimed police said it would take five days to collect the evidence.

Danielle Stewart, who lived in Patteson Road until February, said her purse was stolen from her car the day before moving out. Again, she claimed CCTV was available showing two men using her cards.

“Sadly this never seemed to go anywhere as I heard nothing off the back of my police report,” she added.

A vandalism spree in February this year saw 16 vehicles damaged overnight in Kings Avenue by people smashing wing mirrors.

In April, Amy Buckles, who lives in Kemball Street, said she had been unable to sleep after the area was targeted by vandals smashing car windows. “You are on edge all the time worrying what is happening next,” she said.

Paige Giles said a scooter had been set on fire near where she lived and “the police didn’t even come to investigate”.

“Maybe it’s so normal for the rough areas that they just don’t bother,” she added.

Roy Merry, said he had a sat nav and dash cam stolen from his car in Lacey Street and the police response was a “waste of time”.

Police data shows vehicle crime affects all areas of Ipswich, though some parts have been harder hit. Priory Heath in south east Ipswich recorded the most crimes by council-ward, followed by Alexandra and Westgate.

Advice for drivers to avoid falling victim to vehicle crime

Police have warned drivers it can as little as 10 seconds for a thief to steal from a vehicle – and advised owners to take steps to deter the criminals.

Advice for drivers includes locking their car whenever they leave it, closing windows and sunroofs and not storing valuables inside, such as stereos or sat-navs.

Motorists are also advised to store car ownership documents at home, not their vehicle, and to use special theft resistant number plates.

Practical measures, such as using approved car parks and following a routine to remove keys from the ignition, can also help avoid crime.

At home, vehicle owners are warned to keep keys away from windows and out of sight

Used car buyers are advised to research how different models compare for security.

Motorcyclists are advised to use designated parking spaces with ad security loop, mark their bikes with its vehicle identification number and not to leave items such as helmets with the bike.