/ Vehicle crime event marks launch of Operation Advent

Greater Manchester Police has staged the first of a series of events to promote how to have a safe and enjoyable Christmas. 

Focusing on vehicle security, it marked the launch of Operation Advent, Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP’s) Christmas crime prevention campaign, and forthcoming events in December will raise awareness of burglary, robbery and alcohol-related crime.

As many people are now starting to do their Christmas shopping, GMP is raising awareness of vehicle security due to thieves being on the lookout for cars laden with gifts, or those parked in insecure locations.

Although vehicle crime has fallen by 17 per cent across Greater Manchester in the last 10 years, there were still 1,598 incidents in December 2011, with 447 involving vehicles being stolen while the remainder saw items taken from cars.

On Wednesday 28 November, Inspector Steve Gerrard of GMP’s Salford Division and Crime Reduction Specialist Darron Tickle were at the Lowry Retail Mall's multi-storey car park to explain what police are doing to tackle vehicle crime in the run up to Christmas, and to outline steps that motorists can take to avoid having their vehicles stolen, or to prevent items being taken from cars.

They also had a car on site decorated with gifts and valuables to illustrate how motorists often make their vehicles targets for thieves.

Darron Tickle said: “In the weeks leading up to Christmas when people are out shopping, car thieves are out looking for gifts and valuables left in unattended vehicles.

“To avoid becoming a victim of car crime, motorists should park in secure or well-lit areas wherever possible. They should also close all windows, set any security devices and remove all valuables, especially sat navs and their mounting cradles. All doors should be locked and checked manually, as automatic locking devices can sometimes suffer from interference. 

“If you must leave your vehicle unattended with Christmas shopping inside, make sure you lock it in the boot out of sight, and it’s worth remembering that some stores will keep gifts for you so you can collect them later.”

Police are also urging motorists to register valuables at www.immobilise.com and to security mark them with their postcode and house number or vehicle registration number. 

To prevent hook-and-cane thefts, householders should not leave keys on view and should make sure they are kept away from doors or windows.

Under Operation Advent, police are focusing on a number of crimes that can increase in the run up to Christmas, such as burglary, car crime, handling and dealing stolen goods, robbery, shoplifting and theft.

Other offences that are an issue around this time of year include drink and drug driving, alcohol-fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour, domestic abuse and sex crimes.

People can follow what police are doing for Operation Advent on GMP’s social media networks that include Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and audioBoo. All related tweets on Twitter will contain the hash tag #GMPadvent 

They can also use these sites to find out what officers are doing to fight crime in their neighbourhood, comment on police activity and get advice on how they can keep themselves and their property safe from criminals.

In addition, there will be an Advent calendar on the GMP website throughout December that will feature short daily video clips of officers giving seasonal crime prevention advice.

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