Page last updated at 00:07 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Lorry crime doubles in 12 months

Lorry with sign
Warning signs have been used in the past in targeted areas

The amount of reported lorry crime has almost doubled over the last 12 months, according to new figures published by the freight intelligence unit Truckpol.

The government-backed body found that in 2007 there were 2,284 incidents, but by mid-December 2008 this year there had been 4,171.

According to Truckpol, this year the theft of and from lorries has cost the economy almost 100m.

TruckPol said organised crime was targeting the freight industry.

Several police forces are now making stopping lorry crime a priority.

Major success

Recorded incidents have risen steadily since the beginning of the year, however police said it is not clear how much of that may be due to the struggling economy, with its associated increased market for cheap, stolen goods, or to better reporting of thefts.

A major success in tackling this type of crime came in November, when 11 lorry thieves from Merseyside were convicted of stealing thousands of pounds worth of goods from vehicles across north-west England.

With values of loaded lorries as high as 50,000, they have become a juicy target for organised criminal operations
Don Armour, Freight Transport Association

Truckpol said the work to convict the men, who had been targeting HGVs and goods distribution centres, went on for almost two years and involved officers from three forces across the region.

Don Armour, of the Freight Transport Association, said: "With values of loaded lorries as high as 50,000, they have become a juicy target for organised criminal operations, especially in areas with a concentration of HGVs and good motorway links - ideal for quick getaways."

Truckpol is worried that its work is being undermined by uncertainty over continued government funding.

One victim of lorry crime spoke to the BBC about his ordeal. Former HGV driver Paul Syson gave up his job after being attacked while sleeping in his cab.

He said: "One of the problems that we have is that when we have anything of value, that could be stolen or sold on, we have to make it secure.

"So basically we're advertising to thieves, by putting big locks and things on the back of vehicles, that we're hiding an expensive load."

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