Surge in vehicle crime is part of major increase in offences for St Albans

A tipper truck which was seized when the occupants were arrested on suspicion of fly-tipping offence

A tipper truck which was seized when the occupants were arrested on suspicion of fly-tipping offences has been crushed at a scrap yard. - Credit: photo supplied

St Albans became a crime hotspot in March, with statistics showing a 42 per cent surge in vehicle-related crime alone.

A report to St Albans district council’s cabinet meeting last Thursday (21) warned that the overall crime figure for that month reached its highest level in 12 months – an increase of 11 per cent.

By coincidence, the figures were released about the same time that two cars were stolen in St Albans, and taken to a nearby golf course where they were stripped of parts.

Between 7pm on April 20 and 7.23am on April 22, the window of a black Vauxhall Corsa in The Poplars was smashed, and the vehicle was taken to the grounds of Verulam Golf Club where thieves stole the bonnet, bumpers, tailgate and most of the interior.

Also, between 9pm on April 21 and 3.25am on April 22 in New House Park offender(s) stole a brown Vauxhall Corsa - this vehicle was also found at the golf club.

Councillors were told that overall crime in 2015/16 was 12 per cent higher than in 2014/15 – in line with a 12 per cent rise in crime throughout Herts.

Anti-social behaviour rose by nine per cent in 2015/16, but the biggest rise has been in vehicle-related crime, which saw a 42 per cent increase compared to the same month last year.

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The report said: “This is mainly theft from vehicles, overnight targeting of building vans broken into for tools, or mobile phones being stolen from unlocked cars.

“This has also had a knock-on impact on the figures for criminal damage to a vehicle, which saw a 50 per cent rise.”

There was also a 23 per cent rise in the number of recorded incidents of domestic abuse crime between March 2015 and 2016, which was explained as most likely being due to a “concerted effort across the county to raise the profile of domestic abuse and encourage people to report it”.

A rise in anti-social behaviour “reflects a sharp year-on-year increase in ‘environmental’ anti-social behaviour such as fly-tipping and graffiti. However, such incidents have only started to be recorded by Herts Police as anti-social behaviour over the past year.

The council’s portfolio holder for environment, Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles, said he was ‘acutely aware’ that the number of fly-tipping offences was growing.

He said: “I think it is one of the more difficult issues to deal with because it is not something we can have direct control over.”

Anyone who has any information about either of the car thefts is asked to contact the Herts Police non-emergency number 101.