Van theft has rapidly risen in the county causing a blight to many businesses, the Staffordshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner has revealed.
Ben Adams, who is responsible for a county-wide budget of £250 million, said that incidences of van and commercial vehicle crime had more than doubled in the past year.
Speaking at the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce’s Patrons Lunch, he said: “Van thefts are a problem. They have doubled in 12 months and this, of course, can have a detrimental effect on businesses carrying out their services. Hitting them financially or meaning they may have to let down customers.”
“Behind it is quite a lot of organised crime – groups of people who know that if they can take a vehicle they can shift it.
“It could be broken up and sold as parts or go through some kind of route out of the UK to be sold in other countries.
“This is particularly an issue in South Staffs – where there is a lot of ease of access particularly along our excellent road network. But there are issues in the north and east too.
“So as Commissioner I’m determined to look at more automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).
“We do not have enough of these in Staffordshire. So we want to build up our protection.”
The Crime Commissioner also told the 200-strong audience at the lunch, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent, that a large proportion of crimes being reported to the police were currently business related.
He said: “As part of our victim support policy we have set up a dedicated victim gateway. In the last six months, 30,000 people have been referred to that service.
“At the same time our Business Crime Support Team has had about 2,000 referrals. So it’s a substantial percentage of the police service activity.”
The Commissioner added: “I’m aware that one of my key roles is to deliver in terms of safer places for you to conduct your business.
“Investing in your safety also works the other way around. If you as a business are investing in an area and giving people good jobs, then those individuals are not necessarily out carrying out criminal activity – it’s a two-way thing.”