POLICE in the Derbyshire Dales have launched a new operation to combat a recent rise in thefts from cars in the area.
Operation Welland will see an increase in patrols and officers are urging drivers to take measures to protect their property.
Figures have revealed that there was a rise in thefts from cars and vans in August when compared to the previous month. In Matlock, there were four crimes of this nature in July and 14 in August. In Ashbourne, the number rose from two to 11 and in Bakewell, there was a rise from four to seven.
Items stolen include bags, wallets, cash, tools and other expensive items.
Cash was taken from an unlocked car in Doveridge on August 18, tools were taken by a thief who smashed a van window in Wirksworth on August 17 and on August 27, a laptop and digital camera were stolen from a secure car left in a Bamford car park.
Officers across the dales will increase patrols in order to tackle the problem. If any vehicles are found to be unlocked, or if property has been left on display, officers will seek to find the owner and advise them.
Beauty spot car parks will also be included in the patrols.
Police are encouraging drivers to take the following steps to prevent their vehicles being targeted:
• Always make sure your vehicle is locked when you leave it and that windows are wound up
• Never leave anything on display. Take items such as bags and wallets with you, or put them in the boot
• Park in a well-lit area where possible
• Park your car in your garage, if you have one
• Consider investing in a steering wheel lock
• Contact the police if you see someone acting suspiciously around parked cars, especially if they are going onto driveways and trying car doors.
Inspector Bryan Hall, who is in charge of policing in the dales, said: “While it’s disappointing that we saw a rise in thefts in August, there are many precautions people can take to protect themselves.
“The main trend we are seeing is that thieves are going into unlocked cars to steal items, particularly in Ashbourne.
“The Derbyshire Dales is generally a safe place to live and this may bring with it a relaxed sense of security among some residents. Please be vigilant when it comes to your property. It only takes a moment to remove your personal belongings from your car or take your tools from the back seat into the house.”
Anyone with information about car crime should call police on 0345 123 3333 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.