Police in Wakefield are issuing a warning – particularly to delivery drivers and tradespeople – following a number of thefts of vans in the south east of the district.
Four thefts of vans from delivery drivers and tradespeople have been reported in Wakefield District since the end of October.
The latest offence was reported on Wednesday December 2.
The driver of a Ford Transit van has parked it in Wakefield Road, Kinsley, at around 10.30am while emptying a load.
An unknown person entered the front cab, which was unlocked with the keys inside, and drove off with the vehicle. The van was later recovered near South Elmsall.
A similar offence happened the day before (Tuesday, December 1) in Mayors Walk, Pontefract.
Shortly after 11.50am, the victim was carrying out work on a property with his Renault Master van parked on a driveway unlocked with the keys inside.
A man approached and pushed the victim aside before driving off in the vehicle in the direction of Pontefract Hospital. The vehicle is still outstanding.
A 25-year-old man from Thorne has been arrested in connection with this offence and released on bail.
The previous day (Monday, November 30), at a similar time, a delivery driver was making a delivery in Saxon Mount, South Kirkby, when he saw a man enter his Volkswagen Transporter van.
The victim got in to the back of vehicle as the man was driving away. The man drove to Brierley where he has abandoned the vehicle, taking the victim’s mobile phone, before getting in to a waiting vehicle.
A 26-year-old man from Stainforth has been arrested and bailed in connection with this offence.
An earlier offence was reported on November 25 in Elmsall Way, South Elmsall.
At around 3.10pm, a delivery driver has left his Ford Transit van unlocked with the keys in the ignition while talking to staff at a unit on an industrial estate. He has seen a man enter the van and confronted him. The man alighted the vehicle and left the scene in a white pick-up truck.
Detective Inspector Dave Rogerson, of Wakefield District CID, said: “Clearly there are similarities in these offences and we are working to establish any links between these crimes.
“We are conducting enquiries alongside colleagues in South Yorkshire where two of the vehicles have been recovered and have made two arrests.
“These offences should serve as a timely reminder of the need to be vigilant with vehicle security even if you are only leaving your vehicle for a matter of minutes.
“We appreciate that delivery drivers are particularly busy at this time of year but we would urge people to take a few seconds to remove the keys from the ignition and lock the vehicle; it could save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.”
Anyone with information about any of these offences or who has seen any suspicious behaviour which could be connected are urged to call Wakefield District CID via 101. Information can also be given anonymously to independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.