The latest crime statistics – presented last night to Penarth Town Council – show a significant rise in thefts from motor vehicles.
The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines), chairing the penultimate council meeting of her term as Town Mayor, invited Sergeant Wayne Lock of Penarth Police station to update councillors on the latest crime statistics for the town.
Sgt Lock told the councillors that there had been a total 19 thefts from motor vehicles in Penarth in February this year and 7 such incidents in March – a spike which he had predicted in January.
Sgt Lock said the thefts were still being tackled but that a number of arrests had been made in February . Two of those arrested, he said, had been responsible for at least a third of the crimes recorded (commonly the theft of sat-navs). One of the miscreants had “left his school bag at the scene ” . At the same time there appeared to have been another group of thieves who were targeting white business-vans and stealing tools from them.
In March the spate had continued. The mode of entry was usually to smash the quarter-light of the vehicle to gain entry – 4 cars and 5 vans had been broken into -although in some cases motorists had failed to lock their car doors. There was an on-going operation to clamp down on thefts from vehicles, he said.
Sgt Lock said there had been 3 burglaries in February – including 1 incident in St Augustines where someone had just opened the front door and taken a lap top – and 4 burglaries in March plus 1 failed attempted burglary. He said there was also concerned about the increased incidence of thefts in Cardiff and South Wales of “Asian gold” from the Asian community which he said was from “domestic shrines”
He also noted there had been 1 sexual offence in Penarth in February which had been a “sibling on sibling” case . In March there had been 4 sex offences – 2 of which were historical and related to “the same school -Ysgol Y Deri”. This had been dealt with, he said.
In February there had been one “Hate Crime” which was racial slur in a complex on-going harassment case
The crime figures for Penarth for February and for March (alongside in brackets) are as follows :-
- Burglary 3 (5)
- Burlary Other 5 (2)
- Crinminal Damage 2 (1)
- Drugs 1 (1)
- Other Offence 1 (2)
- Other Theft (Shoplifting) 10 (12)
- Sexual Offence 1 (4)
- Theft from Motor Vehicle 19 (7)
- Theft of Motor Vehicle 0 (1)
- Damage to Motor Vehicle 3 (1)
- Violence against the Person other 3 (17)
- Violence against the Person 17 (7)
Totals Crimes for February 65 . Crimes for March 61
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) asked if the thefts from cars in St Augustine’s Ward (10 in St Augustines Ward in February and 7 in March) had taken place in Penarth Marina.
Sgt Lock said his St Augustines Ward crime figures were not broken down for that specific area – but he did not believe the Marina was specifically being targeted. There was currently a spate of thefts from cars across the whole of Dinas Powys/ Penarth area .
Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked whether the cars were being broken into or whether car windows had been left open or doors unlocked. Sgt Lock said that some of the thefts were “opportunist” in which valuables had been left on display in plain sight in the vehicle. Police were advising motorists not to do this. The thieves also walked around trying car doors and if one opened would steal the sat nav or other contents.
Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) asked about policing the parking on match-days at Old Pens. People were finding it difficult to get in and out of St Marks Road near the ground . Sgt Lock Penarth only had two more games left in the season but he would also be keeping an eye on it next season. PCSO Matthew Fairweather was monitoring the position. An official South Wales Police headed letter warning drivers they are committing an offence was being issued to householders who could put them on vehicles causing an obstruction. Police were also liaising with the clubs. Cllr Thomas said he though it would be for the club to hand out letters to supporters. The letter would say “Please don’t do this. It’s causing an obstruction”.
Cllr Martin Turner said he was sure Sgt Lock was also aware of the caravans and motor homes issue in the Cliff Walk parking ground. Cllr Turner said a number of people were already “up in arms about it” and he was sure the police were aware of the potential problems which could arise.
Sgt Lock agreed. He said that there had been a meeting on the site at 14:30 that day with two members of the local authority with a view to “issuing a verbal notification warning”. He said there were 5 families on the site occupying 6 caravans but at the time of his meeting there was only one male at the encampment. He had spoken to people at the scene and advised them that they should vacate the area as soon as possible within a 24 hour period. The women on the site had said their “men-folk” were not there and did not know when they would be returning.
Sgt Lock said that official signage had also gone up to say the area was restricted. There had been a later meeting at 16:00 with the local authority and a police inspector from Barry. The results of that meeting were awaited. Action was a matter for the local authority in the first instance.
Cllr Clive Williams said this was a seasonal problem throughout the Vale of Glamorgan . However his understanding was that there were no signs up in the car park to say “no lorries overnight” or enforcing a time limit or saying “no travellers”. Therefore it was very difficult in law to say that the campers were trespassing and he feared that this situation would be prolonged. Cllr Williams also noted the effect on the local restaurateur Mr Cioni. He said “ It is intimidating . Families probably wouldn’t want to park there“. He said a similar situation the previous year with a person camping in the area had got “very,very verbal” .
Cllr Williams said he understood the police’s position in all this as it is technically on the council’s ground. If the vehicles weren’t fit for the road then that presented a possible course of action . He said he had taken action by reporting the matter to the Vale Council but said it was “our fault so-to-speak by not displaying this“ [a prohibition on overnight stays]” . He was concerned about the potential legal costs which might be incurred by the Vale Council.
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Cornerswell) said that the two Vale of Glamorgan Council officers Emma Wilson and Mike Clogg were doing quite a lot and hopefully the situation would be ” resolved very quickly”.
Cllr Wilson also noted he found it difficult to locate information about forthcoming police/public liaison meetings (PACT meetings) on the South Wales Police “Our Bobby” web site. Was there he asked, “something going on in the background that we as members don’t know about? ” .
Sgt Lock said that interest in PACT meetings had waned. Many people now preferred to use social media as a means of interaction and he saw this as a way forward. Police were getting feedback as to what the public wanted them to do.