Police have repeated calls for Melton tradespeople to be vigilant and secure their vehicles after dealing with an unprecedented number of thefts from vans over the last three months.
Tools and other items have been taken from the vehicles of builders, plasterers and plumbers throughout the borough in recent weeks, with many break-ins happening overnight.
And Leicestershire Police announced today that since the beginning of the year the force has received more than 800 reports of commercial vehicles broken into across the county and tens of thousands of pounds worth of tools have been stolen.
Enquiries led officers to execute warrants at addresses in Leicester, last month, and recover more than 300 power tools. Officers are currently in the process of trying to reunite the items with their rightful owners.
As a result of those warrants eight people were arrested on suspicion of theft offences and officers are following active lines of enquiry to identify others involved in such crimes.
Det Chief Insp Chris Baker, from the Force Investigation Unit, said: “We have seen an unprecedented number of thefts from commercial vehicles so it’s timely for us to remind people to think about the security of their vehicles and property.
“Tools have been stolen costing victims thousands of pounds to replace. These incidents have a knock-on effect on people’s livelihoods and we take these crimes extremely seriously.
“We would ask tradespeople to be vigilant and think carefully about the security of the tools of their trade.
“Wherever possible, they should remove tools from vehicles parked overnight and ensure their vehicles are locked and parked in a way which would make access for potential thieves difficult.”
Det Chief Insp Baker added: “We’d like to stress the importance of keeping vehicles and contents secure, whether you park them at home or in a public place.
“We’re running a number of initiatives to reduce vehicle crime, including additional officers patrolling hotspots, checks on vehicles using the road network to commit crime and providing crime prevention advice in areas we know are vulnerable, such as car parks of local hotels.
“We’ve had some good results from the operations we’ve carried out to target those who have been involved in thefts from vehicles. We have recovered a substantial amount of tools, most of which we believe were stolen from vans and building sites.”
He said the county forces was committed to stamping out the crime and recovering as much of the stolen property as possible, adding:
“We will continue to carry out operations to educate people on how they can reduce their chances of being a victim, locate those responsible for such crimes and to ensure people report if they have been a victim.
“This is organised criminality and we urge anyone who sees anyone behaving suspiciously around commercial vehicles, particularly at night, or anyone offered tools for sale or who sees tools for sale in suspicious circumstances, to contact us.”
Anyone with information about recent vehicle crimes or who has concerns about the security of their vehicle and requires crime prevention advice is asked to call police on 101.