Residents warned to be vigilant after spate of car thefts

Cannock Chase Council and Staffordshire Police warned residents to be extra vigilant following a spate of car thefts.

Councillor Bryan Jones
Councillor Bryan Jones

Several cars were stolen in Rugeley over the past week and follows similar thefts in Cannock Chase District, in Lichfield District, South Staffordshire District and Tamworth Borough.

The Police say many of the thefts are `keyless` ones where criminals access the signal from car keys which are often left close to front doors. They use a relay device to transmit the signal to owners’ cars. The car thinks the actual key is close by and unlocks itself and allows the engine to be started.

The good news is that these thefts can be stopped by using a signal blocker which is being made available free of charge by Cannock Chase Council. They can also be bought from motoring accessory retailers and online. Keys are stored inside special pouches so thieves can’t pick up the signal. Keys wrapped in tin foil is another prevention.

The Police are also seeing an increase in house burglaries to steal car keys. A steering lock on car steering wheels is recommended to deter criminals from doing this, or by simply keeping car keys well away from front doors where most people unwittingly keep them, perhaps on a hallway table or on a hook. Moving keys into hard-to-find places means criminals won’t find them.

Cannock Chase Council’s Portfolio Leader for Community Safety and Partnerships, Councillor Bryan Jones said: “This is a worrying trend. We are working closely with

Staffordshire Police to address these recent thefts. A particular response we are making as the local authority Community Safety Team is to offer residents free Faraday pouch signal blockers which can help stop the theft of keyless cars by intercepting car fob signals.

“Residents can collect a signal blocker, on a `first come first served basis`, by calling into the Civic Centre Reception during 10am to 4pm between Mondays and Fridays.

Inspector Chris Moss from Staffordshire Police said: “We are proactively targeting vehicle crime where offenders either use keyless technology such as fobs and relay devices or burgle a property to steal keys.

“We are doing this through a dedicated team that has been set up, with increased patrols targeting hot spots and known criminals, as well as sharing intelligence with regional forces including our neighbours at West Midlands Police and at the Central Motorway Police Group, given the district’s proximity to motorways.”

Staffordshire Police say certain Ford, Audi, BMW and Mercedes models are often targeted at residential properties and extra vigilance and, not least, keeping cars locked and house doors and windows secure all helps to deter thieves.

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