Wheel locks idea could go county-wide

A PIONEERING scheme which has cut car thefts by more than half in an area of Ipswich is to be rolled out across the town and may eventually become county-wide, police said today.

A PIONEERING scheme which has cut car thefts by more than half in an area of Ipswich is to be rolled out across the town and may eventually become county-wide, police said today.

Simple car steering locks, purchased in bulk by Suffolk police's south east Ipswich safer neighbourhood team, have been handed out to owners of 'at risk' vehicles in the district.

As reported by The Evening Star on Friday, this simple move has led to a drop from 42 vehicle thefts between July 15, 2006 and December 31, 2006, to 21 during the same period in 2007.

Pc Matthew Smy, who with Pcso Charlotte Williams came up with the idea of bulk-buying the steering locks from an internet company, said the scheme had been a success.

Today he said: “It has been particularly effective for owners of what we term 'at risk' vehicles - and in that category only eight were taken in the period covered last year, compared to 23 in 2006.

“We have been briefing other safer neighbourhood teams on the scheme and they will be putting it into action in their areas as well - and eventually it might go force-wide.”

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At risk vehicles are older models of popular cars such as Ford Escorts which may be seen by thieves as easy targets, and are often taken by joyriders.

Occasionally they are targeted by more serious criminals for use as getaway vehicles in burglaries and armed robberies.

The cars are often abandoned and burnt out after they are taken, which causes further problems for those living in the affected areas.

Mr Smy negotiated the special price of £11 per unit for the locks, and members of the safer neighbourhood team have been approaching owners of vulnerable cars and offering the locks free of charge.

He said: “It is about being proactive rather than reactive - so far none of the people we have given the locks out to, which is about 40 people, have become victims of car crime.”

The police force is in the process of obtaining more locks which will be available, in limited supply, to owners of older cars.

Anyone who is worried about becoming a victim of car crime should contact their safer neighbourhood team on 01473 613500.

Do you think this is a good way of tackling car crime? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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