A crackdown on number plate thefts in Tandridge has resulted in five people being arrested.
The Caterham Safer Neighbourhood Team has been carrying out special patrols over a two-week period in response to residents’ concerns about an increase in the theft of number plates from vehicles parked in the Whyteleafe area.
It is believed the registration plates have then been used on other vehicles to make off without payment from petrol stations across Tandridge and Reigate and Banstead.
Caterham Valley Neighbourhood Specialist Officer (NSO) PC Martin Bassom led the operation. He said: “I hope the robust action we have taken reassures the community that we do listen to their concerns, will support them through positive initiatives such as this and act on information we receive.
“Number plate theft is a nationwide issue and it is a good idea to take steps to protect your vehicle. Clutch-head screws can be purchased at low cost from DIY and car accessory retailers. They can easily be easily fitted with a screwdriver in place of existing screws but cannot be removed using standard tools. Also available from car accessory specialists are number plates which shatter when removed, making them useless to thieves.
“If your number plates are stolen it is vital you report the theft to police immediately. Stolen plates can be fitted to vehicles involved in crime, so by not reporting the incident, you could run the risk of becoming falsely implicated in criminal activity.”
As part of the recent operation four people were arrested on Tuesday, 30 September when officers on patrol spotted a vehicle which they suspected to be on false plates at the BP petrol station on Godstone Road, Whyteleafe. Enquiries at the scene established the plates had been stolen from a vehicle parked in Station Approach, Whyteleafe, earlier that evening.
A man was arrested on Monday, October 6 in connection with making off without paying for petrol from at least 20 petrol stations in Tandridge and Reigate and Banstead. The arrest came after officers stopped a vehicle believed to be on false number plates at a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Brighton Road, Horley.
Inspector Elaine Burtenshaw, Neighbourhood Inspector for Tandridge, added: “This operation sends a clear message to potential offenders that we will not tolerate any form of theft and officers from the Safer Neighbourhood Team will continue to carry out high visibility patrols to keep crime low and target local concerns.
“Together we can crack vehicle crime and information from the community is vital. I would urge anyone who believes they may have seen someone acting suspiciously around a vehicle or at a petrol station, or changing number plates at the side of the road or lay-by, to report it to police immediately.”
● A 21-year-old man arrested in connection with the incident on 6 October has been released on police bail while enquiries continue.
● Three people arrested in connection with the incident on 30 September, a 17-year-old boy and two men aged 18 and 20, have been released on police bail while enquiries continue. A fourth person, a17-year-old boy, has been released with no further action.