THIEVES have been stealing wallets, handbags, tools and diesel from cars and vans as police report a spike in vehicle crime.

An increase in vehicle crime has been logged since September across Worcester, Malvern, Pershore, Evesham and Droitwich.

But a senior officer at West Mercia Police says the force is responding to the concerning trend. On Thursday a male was arrested in the Wychavon area for handling a stolen trailer and remains in custody at Worcester Police Station.

Meanwhile, after a call from a member of the public in the Pebworth area on Monday, November 15, police responded to suspicious activity which led to the seizure of a motor vehicle suspected to be used in crime, which was full of suspected stolen power tools. A stolen quad bike was also recovered.

A van police suspected was being used in thefts was seized and retained by police on Sunday, November 14.

Detective Inspector Dave Knight, based at Worcester Police Station, said: "We are seeing a variety of offences taking place ranging from opportunists stealing handbags/ wallets from insecure vehicles, as well as vans being targeted for tool and diesel thefts, and a small amount of catalytic converter thefts.

"Up to November 15 we have seen an increase in vehicle related offences for the past 28 days of 12.5 per cent compared with the same period last year. Over the same period we have seen a significant decrease in house burglaries of 21.2 per cent compared with the same period last year.

"This may be a sign of thieves diversifying in response to the risks involved in burglaries in relation to court sentencing and potential harm to themselves."

For example, over the past month, local officers have arrested and charged three juveniles for burglary and theft of a motor vehicle in the Droitwich area.

DI Knight added: "Op Transformer is in place to combat vehicle crime in South Worcestershire, to assist the community in terms of crime prevention as well as ensuring that police are as pointed we can be in our patrols based on intelligence. We also have officers dedicated to recognising those vehicle crime series that are taking place so that we can take every opportunity we can to arrest and bring the offenders to justice. South Worcestershire Police are working with our community safety partners to combat this issue in various ways including the purchase of Faraday bags to help prevent keyless thefts of vehicles.

"We are also working with our colleagues within We Don’t Buy Crime which is West Mercia Police’s response to serious acquisitive crime and the associated harm.

"I’m not naïve enough to think that we are going to be able to solve this issue on our own and I would ask for the community to pull together with us.

"We need contact for any crimes in progress and those crimes that have taken place so that we can get hold of the criminals."

Any suspicious activity can be reported by contacting police on 101 or 999 if the crime is happening now.

Police would also like to hear from anyone who has any information as to who are committing these crimes and who is buying the stolen goods. You can also give information anonymously to Crime Stoppers on line or by calling 0800555111.

* Joseph Colin Smith, 49, of Pershore has been charged and remanded to prison in relation to two house burglaries from October 29 in the Upton area.

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