Car crime in Capital more than halved in five years

CAR thefts have more than halved in the last five years, new figures revealed today, with security advances cited as the main reason behind the massive drop.

A total of 1257 vehicles were stolen in the force area between last April and March, compared with a figure of 2611 from 2006/7.

In the Capital, Southside/Newington was the area with the highest number of thefts and attempted thefts of vehicles last year with 157.

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The number of offences committed in Liberton/Gilmerton more than halved over the same period, with 73 reported to police, while only five of the city’s 17 council wards saw an increase.

Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “This is part of a long-term trend and is almost entirely due to manufacturers making cars which are very difficult to steal. The days of the chisel and a quick turn in the lock are long gone as even vehicles ten or 15 years old have immobiliser technology. Treat your car keys like your wallet. Keep them in a safe place and out of sight. Don’t leave them lying around.”

But Mr Greig added: “If thieves are willing to use violence to get hold of keys then our advice would be not to resist.

“We will see professional gangs continue to steal cars from the luxury end of the market. Police will have to take a more intelligence-led approach against gangs who are perhaps shipping vehicles abroad.”

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Southside/Newington had most thefts and attempted thefts followed by Leith Walk with 124 and Forth with 110. Pentland Hills was the safest area with just 23 offences, while Oxgangs had 27 and Corstorphine/Murrayfield recorded 28.

Councillor Ian Perry, who represents the Southside/Newington ward, said: “The figures may be partly a reflection of the types of cars which residents own. In places like Grange there are high-end cars which would be a more attractive prospects for thieves.

“It’s disappointing that there’s been a slight rise at the same time that most places have seen a fall. There needs to be a sit-down with local police officers to work out the reasons for this, and if any preventative measures can be introduced.”

Councillor Norma Austin- Hart, who represents the Liberton/Gilmerton ward, which saw a 51 per cent drop in thefts and attempted thefts of vehicles, said: “I’m really pleased at this improvement. The police have been working hard on this issue, meeting with community groups to give advice on car security.”

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The figures showed that 1537 vehicles were broken into by thieves stealing property during last year, a rise on the previous year’s total of 1473.

A police spokesman said: “Vehicles are one of the most valued commodities possessed by members of our communities and motorists are investing in more robust security such as steering locks, immobilisers and trackers.

“Many of these measures are now offered as standard by manufacturers.

“Guidance on parking vehicles in well-lit locations and removing or safely storing valuable items within helps to ensure members of the public are not targeted by would-be thieves and has helped contribute to a more than 50 per cent reduction in vehicle theft figures over the past five years.

“In areas where vehicle thefts are identified as a concern for the local community, additional high- visibility patrols are deployed.”