Police in Bradford are on the hunt for a gang of criminals who have been targeting and removing parts from premium 4x4s. These gangs are virtually cannibalising vehicles to order and although many of the leading marques are being targeted, it is the Land Rover Range Rover being singled out for their high-end LED headlamps.
It can take as little as 30 seconds to remove the headlamps and police believe that the sale of these lamps, which can cost hundreds of pounds if sourced legitimately, is being used to fund the production of cannabis in the Bradford area.
As well as operating quickly, the gangs have proved themselves to be potentially violent also as one witness has been threatened with a knife when they interrupted a robbery in progress. This turn of events has led the West Yorkshire Police to set up a new squad, codenamed Operation Emporia, to catch the gangs.
One victim of these thefts was a local publican who had the lights and front grille stolen from his Range Rover Sport parked outside his pub. The theft was caught on CCTV and was carried out by three men who arrive in a small white van. The camera footage showed that it took the thieves only a few minutes to put a crowbar between the front wing and the headlights. They wrecked the wing and yet made no noise – and they knew how to disable the vehicle alarm. The resultant damage is estimated to be between £7,000 - £8,000.
Some people believe the lights are being shipped abroad, then sold on eBay to come back into the country. Whilst some may argue that the car manufacturers should take some of the blame for their design concepts, this is clearly a crime which has become fashionable as an ‘easy steal’: we saw last year an explosion in the theft of catalytic convertors from vehicles on garage forecourts and now we have the trend of removing expensive parts from 4x4s.
What can you do to protect your vehicle? Well, other than parking it in a locked garage (and these can be easily breached), you can only ensure your vehicle is parked in a well lit area – and some people are ‘stacking’ their cars so they are parked nose-to-tail so there is no working space for would-be thieves (although this can be difficult to organise).
Insurance will pay out for such theft and damage, but yet again, these waves of crime simply push up the annual renewal premiums for law abiding citizens. Worse still is the fact that the profits from these crimes are going into the production of cannabis, which is in turn breeding a new generation of ‘users’ – and they of course will need to have money to pay for the drugs. An ever turning wheel, which needs to be stilled. Hopefully with initiatives such as Operation Emporia, this will soon be achieved.