New data has revealed that of the 1291 recorded incidents of vehicle crime in Garston over the last five years, only 32 have led to the pursuit of criminal charges.
Information sent to GARSTONnews through an FOI request to Hertfordshire Constabulary reveals that over two hundred vehicle-based crimes happen through the Leggatts, Woodside, Stanborough and Meriden wards every day.
Despite this, only a small amount of these have had investigations that have resulted in criminal charges being brought against offenders. From April 2021 to March 2022, 253 crimes were recorded, but as of yet only three charges have been brought related to those incidents.
In the wider picture of the whole of Watford, 4511 vehicle-based crimes were reported to Hertfordshire Constabulary between April 2017 and March 2022, with only 145 charges being brought related to them.
The Garston ward where the most crimes occurred was the Meriden, which has had 370 incidents over the past five years. The ward with the least is Woodside, which has had 303.
The Watford ward with the most incidents is, unsurprisingly, the city centre, which has experienced 691 crimes, with Tudor ward coming in second with 471.
The ward with the least amount of vehicle crime is Oxhey, which has had 277 incidents over the past five years.
The period of time with the most crimes was the period between April 2019 and March 2020, just before the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown, where 1027 incidents were recorded by police.
The period of time with the least amount of crimes was between May 2018 and March 2019, where 724 incidents occurred.
When contacted for comment, Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Detective Inspector Tony Fontenelle, who leads the Watford Local Crime Unit, said: “Vehicle crime is notoriously difficult to detect, and is a very broad term which includes a wide range of offences, from interference with a vehicle – which could be someone simply trying a door handle – to the theft of number plates, items within the vehicle, or stealing a vehicle outright.
“The whole country has been affected by several crime spikes over the last few years, with thieves targeting catalytic converters especially for the precious metals they contain. In response, the constabulary launched Operation Feline which offers drivers free security marking for their vehicle’s catalytic converters.
“Keyless entry vehicles have also been targeted by criminals who use technology to bypass the security systems. Operation Remote has recently been launched to raise awareness of this crime and give owners the information that will help them to protect their vehicles.
“Another prevalent vehicle of recent years is the theft of tools from vans. The Constabulary has run several campaigns on this including Operation Chariot, which helped van owners get improved locks installed on vans and encouraged them to remove valuable tools or install a tool safe.
“We are very proactive in terms of our crime prevention advice and regularly share messaging via our social media sites, Online Watch Link and poster campaigns. We also run regular Operation Insecure events, which involves officers proactively trying car door handles to see if they are unlocked, and then speaking to those vehicle’s owners to give them crime prevention advice.”
There is a comprehensive guide to vehicle security available at: www.herts.police.uk/protectyourvehicle.