[h1]Police red-faced over goods pinched under their noses[/h1]
HANDCUFFS, helmets, a pint of milk, cannabis resin, a can of Stella – and even a marked police car.
These are just a few of the more bizarre items among the thousands of pounds- worth of property thieves have pinched right from under the noses of Welsh bobbies, Wales on Sunday can reveal.
The list of stolen goods, which will no doubt leave our boys in blue red-faced, also includes cash, police radios, high visibility jackets, body armour, notepads – and even police ID.
All four Welsh forces said it was too difficult to put exact costs on the swiped goods, but our calculations show that the total runs into thousands of pounds.
Last night, the thefts were branded “unbelievable” by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who said police should heed the advice they dish out – and take better care of their own property.
One of the more astonishing thefts was a marked police car stolen from a South Wales officer in 2005. A spokeswoman for the force said the officer left his car running while he went to the aid of a colleague. An opportunist thief sped away in the car, which was later recovered, and the thief arrested.
A separate incident of a similar attempted theft was also recorded in 2005 but the car was not moved and the would-be thief quickly arrested.
In the same year, three tyre valves worth £105 were taken from a police car parked outside a police station.
Other items pinched include handcuffs, a helmet, body armour and a baton – but more bizarrely a pint of milk, a can of Stella and some cannabis resin worth £15. Stationery also went amiss, with two pens and five notepads falling victim to thieves.
High visibility traffic jackets, officers’ flat caps and traffic officers’ hats were also top of the cops with pilferers.
Other poached property included a breathalyser worth £400, a personal computer worth £300, cash to the value of £297.67 and a police radio worth £250. A mobile phone was also nicked along with a roadwork lamp worth £50, a padlock and a wallet. For Gwent Police, the force’s records show that six items were stolen between March 2006 and March 2008 – worth more than £2,100.
Bold-as-brass thieves nicked copper strapping from a radio mast worth £1,120, a satnav worth £150, £30 cash and a £200 breathalyser from a police car.
According to force records for North Wales Police dating back to 2005, seven state-of-the-art radio sets, worth more than £2,800, were stolen in the space of little more than a year. And 77 ID cards were lost or stolen in two years, setting the force back £200.
Among other property pinched was a dummy laptop computer, mobile phone and satnav – all used as part of a sting operation – handcuffs, a police jacket and a police “slow” sign.
The force also details thefts of a BlackBerry mobile e-mail device, body armour, a number plate and paper file which it says was mislaid internally. A police cone worth £50 and a police sign worth £200 were also pinched.
Dyfed-Powys Police said that between 2006 and 2008 the items snatched included a £100 mat, a screwdriver, £5 cash and, more bizarrely, herbal cannabis.
The Welsh forces said that the thefts, details of which were released to WoS under the Freedom of Information Act, were rare and all incidents were thoroughly investigated.
But Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s unbelievable that so much is being stolen from the police.
“Every penny lost is money out of taxpayers’ pockets and funds lost from the fight against crime. The police should take more care with the equipment provided to them.”
A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said: “Theft of police property is very rare.
“However, we are a large force covering a wide area and acknowledge that on very rare occasions thefts of property can occur.
“The circumstances of any reported incident are investigated as is the case with any reported theft.”
A North Wales Police spokeswoman said: “As can be seen from the data provided, theft from police is extremely rare.
“There are numerous safeguards in place.
“Police deal with many dynamic incidents on a daily basis and unfortunately a small number of thefts occur.”
A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police said: “With the nature of our job, security is taken very seriously and as a force we investigate every crime.
“Obviously the figures show that this is not a major problem in Dyfed- Powys Police.
And a spokeswoman for Gwent Police said: “Quite clearly thefts of Gwent Police property are very rare events and the two years in question saw problems around the theft of metals from radio installations.
“This was part of an increase in metal thefts seen nationally as a result of the increasing value of the commodity.
“We have made significant efforts with partners to tackle this trend.”