Thieves working in pairs are roaming the streets at night trying car doors and looking for valuables to steal.
Some residents have had their vehicles broken in to multiple times and car crime is still the top reported crime across all three CR7 wards.
While crime has fallen during lockdown the levels of car related crime has remained consistent with almost 100 vehicle crimes being reported each month, since December, with many more likely unreported.
This footage captured (LEFT) shows the modus operandi of one of the car thief crews operating across the wards.
A man in a cap is captured trying car doors on Mersham Road at 6am on March 12. He tries and opens the driver’s door on a white car and gets in. He can then be seen searching the car. Undeterred by people passing by he then gets out, opens the boot to look for more items to steal. He acknowledges an accomplice on the other side of the road. He nods at him shuts the boot and then they both carry on up either side of the road. In this case he got away with a small amount of cash.
One victim said: “Our car self locks after 10 minutes so even if we didn’t lock it last night, I don’t know how they got in??”
On Norfolk Road at 2.25am on April 26, a door camera picks up two men walking on along on either side of the road trying car doors. Also reported to police similar activity on Kynaston Road at 4.30am on April 27. The suspect reported to the police was described as blonde haired, with blue jacket, jeans and white trainers.
In December there were 45 thefts from cars in Thornton Heath, 23 in Bensham Manor and 35 in West Thornton
In January 29, 25 and 38. In February 32, 19 and 38. In March it significantly rose in West Thornton to 51 with 21 in Thornton Heath and 23 in Bensham Manor.
Thornton Heath Safer Neighbourhood Team have executed a number of decoy vehicle operations in the ward as well as plain clothes patrols in an attempt to catch and deter criminals who engage in car crime. As part of this, officers have been using predictive mapping technology to identify the most at-risk areas.
Thornton Heath Police told The Chronicle: “We are aware that vehicle crime is an issue and one of our top priorities. Last week we apprehended someone shortly after they had broken into a vehicle, this investigation is ongoing.”
Police advise not to leave valuables in vehicles, or your vehicle unattended and unlocked even for a moment plus try and park either in a lit or visible area.
Clive Wain, head of police liaison at Tracker, stolen car recovery experts, warned that car crime could increase during the coronavirus lockdown due to a shortage of car parts. Ninety-two percent of the vehicles Tracker recovered last year were stolen without the thief having possession of the vehicle’s keys.
Many keyless entry and start systems can be temporarily switched off to prevent electronic compromise and keyless theft. You can consult your local dealer to help do this.
As ever, call 999 in an emergency or 101 for non-emergency situations. You can also report a crime online at
www.met.police.uk/. If you wish to speak to the Thornton Heath Safer Neighbourhoods team, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.