Penarth Town Council was told last night that South Wales Police have made a number of arrests in the hunt for the 5 black street-robbers who stole a bag, a bike and mobile phone from local teenagers in Dingle Road Penarth on September 2nd and 3rd.
Sergeant Sarah Trigg, who is now the Deputy Policing Inspector for Penarth, briefed councillors on the latest developments.
Dep Insp Trigg said that 2 of the alleged offenders had already been arrested and 2 more of them were due to be arrested that very evening. She said the police “knew exactly who is responsible” and through the body-worn cameras with which officers are now equipped it had been possible to “link those culprits to anti-social behaviour in Penarth that same evening and arrest them“.
Sergeant Trigg said that through the summer months the big spike in crime in Penarth had been in vehicle crime – mainly in the Penarth Marina area with a “combination of factors” involved. It had been a long, very hot, summer accompanied by the “usual rise in anti-social behaviour” and a number of vehicles had been broken into in the Penarth Marina area .
Five people had been arrested for thefts from vehicles in Penarth Marina . Police had spoken to all the victims of the crimes, a lot of whom had CCTV or dash-cams on their cars. The police had gathered all the images – and linked offenders with property stolen from the cars. The files would be going to the Criminal Prosecution Service shortly.
All the offenders came from the Cardiff area and “lived in hostels” . Dep Insp Trigg said it was literally a case that they would go out at 02:00 in the morning – go back at 06:00 and tell their colleagues “Would you believe it – in the Marina nobody locks their cars ”
Dep Insp Trigg said there was a crime prevention element in this case in that none of the vehicles involved had actually been locked – therefore nothing had been broken into and no damage was caused. It was opportunist crime in which the offenders had “tried the door handles” of vehicles and when they found one was open they went in and “rummaged around” and moved on. A leafleting campaign had been carried out to make residents more aware.
The point about allegedly unlocked cars was taken up by Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines). Cllr Allman said some cars had not been locked but that was not the case for all the vehicles involved
Cllr Allman said Chief Inspector Tony Williams in a briefing to local residents had referred to remote radio devices which could be bought on the internet which would unlock cars.
Cllr Allman also said there were continuing problems with the illegal use of laughing gas cartridges and the absence of street lighting in the small hours of the morning. “Dog walking” patrols and a Neighbourhood Watch were being set up.
Regarding other crime, Dep Insp Trigg said that telephone fraud was also a major issue in the Penarth area – but had now, sadly, spread to all of Wales . It had started with somebody pretending to be a police officer from Bristol purporting to be dealing with a person who had been a victim of fraud and needing to “transfer money”.
Now the fraud has developed to target elderly people who are being contacted by criminals purporting to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs who tell victims they are “in arrears in tax” and ask them how much money they can pay. Dep Inspector Trigg said ” a lot of people have paid the money” .
[On August 24, South Wales Police received calls from at least a dozen different victims in Barry and Penarth of attempted frauds. In each of these cases, the victim had been contacted by a fraudster pretending to be from HMRC and threatening the victim with arrest unless they paid money supposedly owed.]
Dep Inspector Trigg said the calls came from many difference places including London . She said she could not talk about the measures being taken by the police to counter the scams – but assured councillors “there are steps being taken”.
A lot of crime prevention work was being carried out in cooperation with banks. On two occasions when an elderly person had gone into the bank to take out money [ to hand over to the fraudster] Penarth Police had received calls from the cashier saying they were “not happy with this person withdrawing £500 and were not sure it was for the right reasons”.
Dep Inspector Trigg said now, there was increasing awareness of the scam by the general public and no money was being handed over.
Dep Inspector Trigg said that now, with banks becoming more wary, the fraudsters were persuading elderly people to go to supermarkets to buy [on cards] large quantities of iTunes vouchers or Google Play vouchers – and the police were now advising supermarkets of this extension of the racket.
Cllr Ben Gray (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked for the crime statistics provided by South Wales Police to include comparative figures so that current crime rates could be compared with those in the same month of the previous year. He also asked what the plans were for the future of “PACT” meetings (police/public liaison meetings).
Dep Insp Trigg said these were no longer being held on a ward basis – but she would ascertain the current position.
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) questioned the continued use of the long defunct “Alexandra Ward” of Penarth in the police statistics. Cllr Wilson said “Alexandra Ward” had been “gone for 14 years”. [ What was Alexandra Ward was split into Plymouth Ward and St Augustine’s Ward in the 1990s].
Cllr Wilson pointed out that Alun Michael [the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales ] actually lives in the “fictitious Alexandra Ward” .
He said that Penarth Town Council would like the ward designation changed to separately account for Plymouth Ward and St Augustine’s Ward.
Dep Insp Trigg said “I’m afraid that is not possible. I get my information from Corporate Finance. They are now in charge of the business side of policing. When I ask for the figures- this is how I receive them “. Cllr Wilson said he did not want to put Dep Inspector Trigg “on the spot” but councillors could not represent fictitious wards.
Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines) also called for the separate categorisation of domestic violence cases and that “hate crime” be included in the police statistics .
The council is now to write to the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner setting out the way in which it wants Penarth crime information reported to it in the future.
There were 426 crimes committed in Penarth in the four months from April to July 2018 (inclusive) with 117 of these crimes being committed in July .
In Penarth in July ( the latest month for which figures have been produced) the statistics were as follows:-
- Violence with injury 14
- Violence without injury 9
- Stalking and harassment 11
- Residential burglary 5
- Vehicle offences 21
- Bike thefts 3
- Shoplifting 8
- Criminal damage 14
- Possession of drugs 2
- Posession of weapons 2
- Public order offences 11