Police puzzled by strange spate of vehicle crime

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Spare wheels from underneath vans, car number plates, and a disabled person’s ‘blue badge’ are some of the items that have been stolen during an unusual spate of vehicle crime in Leyland.

Police are warning drivers to be vigilant as a number of new trends have started emerging in the town this month.

Neighbourhood Sgt for the Leyland area, David Brown, said: “One pattern emerging is the theft of spare wheels from underneath vans.

“One incident occurred in Bristol Avenue in Leyland, overnight on Saturday, February 1, and another the same night at Prospect Avenue in Lostock Hall.

“We want to advise van owners to review the security of their vans and look into improving the security of the spare wheels, by the addition of a padlock or similar device to the spare wheel cage underneath the vehicle.

“Another pattern is the theft of vehicle number plates, and again there have been two separate thefts recently.

“The first was overnight on Wednesday, February 5, where the rear number plate was stolen from a BMW on Golden Hill in Leyland.

“The second was during the following night on Thursday, February 6, where both the front and rear number plates were stolen from a Vauxhall Corsa.

“On both occasions the number plates were simply unscrewed.”

He warned that criminals often do this in advance of carrying out a more serious offence, such as driving a stolen vehicle.

“This has become a common problem across the country, since the production and sale of number plates has been clamped down on by the Department of Transport, and has to be documented through registered traders,” Sgt Brown said.

“Unfortunately this has resulted in criminals stealing number plates which are often subsequently used to disguise vehicles used in other more serious crimes.

“We would advise the public to be aware of this crime trend and where possible consider the use of either adhesive pads or anti-theft screws for the fitting of number plates, both of which will assist in preventing future victims of crime. These can be purchased from motor retail shops or online.”

There have been three other vehicle crimes so far this month which police are appealing for witnesses for all involving people leaving their cars unlocked.

In Leyland, a disabled person’s blue badge was stolen in Haig Avenue, and another resident attending Tesco Express on Leyland Lane had a wallet stolen from their unlocked vehicle, whilst they were in the shop.

Some clothing has also been taken from an unlocked boot in Green Croft, Penwortham.

Sgt Brown said: “Again the simple crime prevention advice is for vehicle owners to be vigilant and to ensure their vehicles are left secured at all times, and that they remove any items of value.”

Any information regarding these crimes can be given anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by calling Lancashire Police’s non-emergency number, 101.