Van owners warned after Transit thefts in and around Dunmow

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Officers are urging business van owners to be vigilant after a spate of tool thefts in Uttlesford and Braintree where thieves are gaining access to vehicles using "specialised equipment".

Thousands of pounds of tools have been stolen from four Ford Transit vans in the incidents, which took place in Dunmow, Hatfield Heath and Braintree between August 13-17, and each time no forced entry was recorded.

The thefts began overnight on August 13 when a white Ford Transit was broken into on Chelmsford Road in Hatfield Heath and two electric drills were taken from the van.

Thieves struck again a day later after tools, three battery packs, a satellite navigation system, and a ladder were stolen from two blue Ford Transit vans in Rifle Hill in Braintree between August 14 and 15.

A further secure white Ford Transit van was entered by unknown means overnight on August 16 in Fitzwalter Place, Chelmsford Road in Great Dunmow, and an Apple Mac laptop, two drills, an angle grinder, and a heat gun totalling £3,000 were taken. In February, Cambridgeshire police issued a warning to van owners after tools were stolen from 10 Ford Transits in similar incidents in south and east Cambridgeshire, including three vehicles in Duxford. In these thefts, officers believed that a master key was being used to enter the vans.

Claire Fordham, 30, contacted the Broadcast to alert van owners about the incidents after her partner’s van was ransacked without forced entry in the August 16 theft at Fitzwalter Place in Dunmow.

She said: “People deserve to know what is going on, the police told us there had been several other similar incidents and had we known about this, we would have taken extra precautions with the van. Apparently, they’re using specialised equipment to get into the vans.

“We’re gutted, you just don’t expect that to happen around here and it’s not a nice feeling to know that they can do this.”

An Essex police spokesman said: “At this stage there is no evidence to conclusively link these offences together but police are keeping an open mind.

“Criminals know that cars and vans are still easier targets than homes and other means of stealing property so we would advise everyone to take sensible precautions to protect their vehicles.

“The safest way to avoid your car or van becoming a target for theft is to remove all property from within so there is nothing to attract a thief and to put a note to this effect in the window. If possible people should park their vehicles in a secure 
location or in areas with CCTV.

“Thieves will always be looking at new ways to get around standard car security measures so motorists should also consider buying 
additional security devices.”

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