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How gangs are targeting high-value cars in the West Midlands

Birmingham Mail logo Birmingham Mail 09/11/2017 James Rodger

Organised crime gangs stealing high-value cars to ship abroad or cut up for parts are becoming a "serious problem", a chief constable has said.

The spike in offences, which has seen a rise in car-key burglaries and a spree of car-jackings in affluent areas, "has got to a level that's very intimidating", according to the top officer.

West Midlands Police chief constable David Thompson said car crime had "flipped" nationally, away from older vehicles to the theft of "new, more modern cars".

The area's police and crime commissioner, David Jamieson, said it could herald the return of the crook lock, and has asked for manufacturers to increase security.

Mr Thompson told members of the commissioner's strategic policing and crime board during a scheduled meeting in Birmingham on Tuesday, some robberies, burglaries and vehicle crime were linked, while responding to a question on the issue.

a man wearing a hat: Credits: West Midlands Police © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: West Midlands Police

West Midlands Police

He added: "With vehicle crime, the picture has changed nationally. There's a shift to new more modern vehicles.

"It's a big issue. It's flipped around quite rapidly.

"The recovery rate of vehicles has dropped, they're probably going out of the country or being cut up for parts.

"I think it's a really serious organised crime problem."

Speaking about the issue's impact in the West Midlands, which the senior officer said had always had a high vehicle crime rate nationally, Mr Thompson added this particular surge of car thefts were "a different trend".

a man wearing a green shirt: Credits: PA © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA

PA

Turning to affluent areas in parts of Solihull and Birmingham which have seen a rise, Mr Thompson said: "There's a lot of threat and risk in those areas and it is absolutely a priority.

"A lot more crime is coming across my desk in terms of this issue, than it was 12 months ago.

"People have worked very hard to earn the money to have nice things."

He added: "It's got a level of organisation that's very intimidating to people. There's definitely some work to do on criminal networks, as well as manufacturers."

The chief constable was responding to concerns from board member Brendan Connor, who warned public confidence could plummet if the issue was not tackled.

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Mr Connor, from Solihull, West Midlands, said the area had suffered a substantial rise in problems including a car-jacking.

He added that the "rate of increase has been staggering" on robberies, with a near 40% rise across the force area since March this year.

Mr Connor added: "Unless we really get to grips with these gangs, the public confidence in the area is going to go through the floor."

Deputy chief constable Louisa Rolfe also said there was a "correlation" of vehicle crime in well-off areas, like parts of Solihull, where there was "a higher density of high-value vehicles".

However, she said the force was tackling the problem and had taken "one or two offenders" off the streets responsible for "a spree of car-key burglaries and car-jackings".

Officers also recently shut down a chop shop being run from an industrial unit.

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