Ram-raiders spark police action in Doncaster: police column

We're taking action over a spate of Doncaster ram-raid incidents, writes Det Chief Insp Steve Handley.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 17:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th July 2019, 16:52 pm
Police deal with the aftermath of a ram raid

There has been an increase in cases since the start of June, along with a spike in the number of incidents we are seeing of what are known as two-in-one one burglaries, where thieves break into a home, take the keys to the car outside, and then steal the car.

I’m the force lead for serious and acquisitive crime, and I am seeing the impact it is having.

We have had an upsurge in ram raids on commercial premises, where criminals drive into windows or shutters to access the property, always for theft.

Police deal with the aftermath of a ram raid

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The challenge for us has been to put together patrol plans and deal with people suspected of these crimes.

The last couple of weeks have been encouraging, as we have not had a case of ram raiding over that period, as I write this column.

Most of the incidents have targeted DIY stores and firms like plumbing and electrical merchants. Metal theft seems to spike when prices for raw materials like that are high.

The challenge has been to look at the crime patterns and arrange our patrols so that we deal with both issues, and we think we’ve managed to do that in the short term.

We have had meetings with other forces and policing areas in the region, and are using the traffic officers and cars that we have in our areas.

There have recently been three significant arrests in the Scunthorpe region, which have seen people charged and remanded in custody.

One of the individuals has a Doncaster address. We feel there could be links to Doncaster

We will be interviewing those people, because we think there could also be connections to incidents which have happened in Doncaster.

In addition to those three arrests, we have also made an arrest in Doncaster in relation to ram raiding. That individual is currently on a curfew.

The other issue we have seen has been two-in-one burglaries. We think that these could well be being carried out by travelling criminals who are coming into our areas to steal cars.

Since the beginning of June, up to July 12, there were 48 offences reported where people’s homes had been broken into and vehicles stolen. Some of those have seen more than one vehicle stolen, with the total being 61 vehicles stolen over that same period.

Over the weekend of July 13 and 14, we had another address raided in Edlington. There were two vehicles stolen, a Volkswagen Tiguan and a BMW.

The challenge for us is to identify the people responsible and target them.

We are also looking at the markets for the vehicles which are stolen so that we can stop there from being an outlet for the burglars to sell the stolen cars to.

It is high powered, high performance, prestige cars that are being targeted, and the sales of the vehicles are being linked to organised crime across South Yorkshire or regionally.

We heard of one individual recently being released from prison, and then arrested by our colleagues in Lincolnshire for this sort of crime. One of the stolen vehicles was traced back to a lock-up in Doncaster. That individual has has been charged and remanded in custody.

We have also made arrests in Doncaster recently for this sort of crime, including two arrests on July 14 on suspicion of carrying out two-in-one burglaries in the Sprotbrough area.

Over the last two weeks, linked to patrols in Doncaster, we have arrested six people who we think are either linked to committing the burglaries or handling stolen vehicles.

For instance, last week, traffic officers attempted to stop a brand new BMW on Balby Road. There was a pursuit, and it crashed. Two occupants ran out in balaclavas, and we detained one of the two. It turned out that the car had been stolen from Penistone, in Barnsley. Officers were sent to the home of the registered owner of the vehicle, and they didn’t know at the time that it had been stolen. They had been fast asleep in bed and only found out what had happened when we knocked at the door.

That is the challenge for us – often the theft is not reported to us until the next day when the owner discovers the car has gone.

On another subject, we recently saw the South Yorkshire violent crime task force come to the Dearne Valley to work in Mexborough, as well as areas of the Dearne Valley in Rotherham and Barnsley.

We have been deploying the task force regularly, and we have worked with detective inspectors in Barnsley and Rotherham to look at issues in the Dearne Valley, and run high visibilty policing in the area. It is the first time we have worked together in this particular context.

We have been running a long term operation against organised crime in Mexborough, and work like that can sometimes have a dispersal effect, with people moving a short distance into Rotherham, Barnsley or Doncaster. This is about having officers in other areas to stop any dispersal occurring.

We are having a positive impact in Mexborough, and are in there for the long haul.