Covert capture vehicles fight crime

Devon and Cornwall Police are using specially equipped cars to fight street crime. The cars look ordinary to the casual observer, but have in fact been fitted with the latest video equipment.

Oct 6, 2005
By David Howell

Devon and Cornwall Police are using specially equipped cars to fight street crime. The cars look ordinary to the casual observer, but have in fact been fitted with the latest video equipment.

The cars are parked in well known crime hotspots and left unattended. If the car is tampered with, the video equipment is activated and satellite technology sends a signal to nearby officers. The video evidence has helped police secure convictions.

Torbay saw a 15.60/0 increase in car crime during 2003/4 making this kind of street crime a priority. PC Tim Brooks from Torbay’s Crime Reduction Department has been instrumental in introducing these vehicles to the area for use by the CID Proactive Unit and other officers. He commented: “I am confident that the introduction of the cars into the area will have a significant impact on vehicle crime by raising the fear of being caught in the mind of the criminal, rather than victims being in fear of the crime happening to them.”

Sergeant Jim Hinchliffe from the Torbay Police Proactive Unit said: “This high-tech equipment will be an effective weapon in the fight to reduce vehicle crime in the area. The fact criminals will not know whether or not they are breaking into a car which will record their every move will clearly make them think twice.”

Leaflets, posters and other advertising material have been distributed for display in prominent locations. Stickers will also be distributed as a deterrent to members of the public to put in their car asking the question ‘Is this a covert capture car?’ The police will also be working closely with the Prolific Offender Unit who deal with potential car criminals and Torbay’s Youth Offending Team. Nigel Denning from the Youth Offending Team said: “We are pleased to be working with the police in tackling car crime. This initiative will proactively reduce car crime and deter those young people open to such temptations.” Figures show overall vehicle crime in Cornwall was reduced by 14 0/0, with theft down by 120/0. In Devon and Torbay a fall of 8.50/0 in overall car crime and an 18.60/0 reduction in theft from vehicles has been reported since the scheme has been in operation.

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