Newmarket residents appeal for action after spate of van break-ins

Studlands and Freshfields residents have become the target for tool thieves.
Studlands and Freshfields residents have become the target for tool thieves.

Studlands Park residents are demanding more is done to combat an epidemic of van break-ins and tool thefts.

Latest police figures show that, on average, in November there was a vehicle-related crime on the estate reported every four days – predominantly theft from and damage to vans.

Residents are now calling for CCTV cameras to be installed and extra police patrols to help crack down what they believe is an organised gang targeting traders’ vans.

Builder Russell Becket said his van was broken into on Friday for the second time in the space of seven months.

“It’s rife everywhere. The thieves are brazen,” he said.

Paul Brooks-Harley, a maintenance manager, had his van broken into on January 6. His repair bill was around £1,300 as his van needed a new door and a new lock.

“They know you are going to replace the tools. They will come back,” he said.

Carpenter Andy Mott said he had his van broken into every year for the past three years.

“I have been here for 30 years but last year was the worst I have ever known,” he said.

Most traders now take their tools out of their vehicles as the crime rate has soared, but that has not stopped thieves trying to break into vans, causing hundreds of pounds of damage in the process.

“A lot of people seem to forget that even if you take your tools in overnight you can still have your van damaged,” said Mr Mott.

Health and safety inspector Dave Scotcher said: “It was crime prevention day in Studlands Park Social Club and my van was done between 12.30pm and 3pm in broad daylight. All they took was a can of de-icer worth £1.50 but they caused £2,500 of damage.”

Alex Tompson, who works as a dryliner, said he had his van broken into three weeks before Christmas and £5,000 worth of tools stolen. He said his garage had also been targeted.

“I must have been watched. They know what they are looking for,” he said.

Residents believe that the thefts, which have all been reported to the police, are the work of a co-ordinated gang which is also targeting the estate’s garages.

And they have called for more action by the police who they felt were ‘fobbing them off'.

“The insurance company does more investigation than the police,” said Mr Tompson, who added that it had taken four days for police forensics to investigate, by which time it ‘was too late’.

“I just got a crime number in the post and that’s it,” he said.

The crime wave is taking its toll with residents face rising insurance premiums, lost work and becoming increasingly paranoid about the safety of their property and whether they will be the next victim.

Suffolk Police were contacted for a comment on the spate of thefts, but had not responded by the time the Journal went to press.

If you have been targeted by thieves, contact the Journal at .