Edinburgh motorbike joyriders spark rise in vehicle theft

Stolen: New figures show a rise in in motor vehicle thefts in the city. Picture: Susan Burrell
Stolen: New figures show a rise in in motor vehicle thefts in the city. Picture: Susan Burrell
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YOUTHS stealing motorbikes have fuelled a near-quarter rise in motor vehicle thefts across the Capital.

New figures show that crime from April to December 2016 was down overall on the previous year with a seven per cent drop.

However, although there was an 11 per cent drop in car crime overall, there was a 22.4 per cent increase in thefts, or attempted thefts, of motor vehicles, with the number increasing to 683 – more than two a day.

Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald said camera-carrying officers and helicopters were being deployed to crack down on motorbike thefts.

“We’re highlighting the dangers that often these young people are taking,” he said.

“We’ve started asking individuals to report where a young person is placing themselves in danger by undertaking this reckless behaviour – it could save their lives.”

Chief Supt MacDonald welcomed fewer robberies, drug offences, sex crimes and housebreaking.

But he condemned an “entirely unacceptable” rise in attacks on his officers and warned those responsible would be brought to justice.

“My officers are working flat out, 24/7, 365 days a year to keep the people of Edinburgh safe,” he said.

The figures also show the number of serious assaults dropped by more than seven per cent – meaning 22 fewer victims over the nine months.

Chief Supt MacDonald said nearly half of these were in an area which included the city centre, with nighttime drinking a contributing factor.

“That’s why we’re working very hard with policing to deter and tackle it every Friday and Saturday night,” he said.

He also praised a 1.4 per cent drop in robberies – meaning 21 fewer victims.

But there were 37 more attacks on emergency workers, mostly police, with the figure up ten per cent to 395 – more than one every day.

“That level of violence shown to my officers is entirely unacceptable,” said Chief Supt MacDonald.

While sex crimes were down by 18 per cent – 163 fewer victims – detection rates also plummeted to just over half for rapes.

“Victims in this area can be reluctant to come forward,” said Chief Supt MacDonald. “Given the under-reporting nature of serious crimes of a sexual nature, I don’t think this reduction is wholly indicative of a long-term trend which is still on the rise.”

He said historical sex crimes – accounting for a third of those reported – could be tougher to solve.

Detection rates generally should be improved by ongoing work with the Crown to “fast-track“ suspects, he added.

Housebreaking of homes saw a dramatic drop of 16.7 per cent – or 243 fewer victims – with 55.7 per cent of incidents resulting in items being stolen.

“This is evidence that our crime prevention message is getting across,” said Chief Supt MacDonald.

“Simple and effective measures the public can take – locks, external lighting on sensors or maybe just cutting back foliage.”