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WATCH: police grilled over surge in thefts from vans in Brighton and Hove


ANGRY tradesmen have urged police to do more in a desperate plea to catch thieves responsible for a tool theft crime spree.

Thousands of pounds worth of tools have been stolen from vans across Brighton and Hove over the past two months with most crimes being committed during the night.

Around 50 businessmen met three police constables in a public meeting on Thursday evening at the Ladies Mile pub in Patcham, the area targeted most by the culprits.

Tradesman Nick Benn organised the event with Councillor Lee Wares who represents Patcham and Hollingbury.

Mr Benn said: “More needs to be done by the police to investigate this.

“We must be up to £100,000 worth of tools stolen. It just goes on and on.”

In September there were 52 thefts from vehicles reported to Sussex Police across the city.

That figure increased by a staggering 67 per cent in October, rising to 87 around Brighton and Hove.

Of the 87, 29 were vans. Sixteen of the 29 were in Patcham.

The trend has continued into November with thieves stealing from 24 vehicles around Brighton and Hove.

Five were committed overnight on Monday in Patcham.

At the meeting tradesmen grilled PCs Jan Szaranek, Natasha Swan and Peter Mimms about why the force has not done more to protect them.

They asked what can be done to try and catch the criminals.

One man, who had his van targeted in Vale Avenue on Sunday, shouted: “You don’t do anything.”

He added that his children get scared when they hear a van drive past the house – a feeling echoed at the meeting.

PC Szaranek said: “I know how it feels when you can’t earn a living. I was a landscape gardener and had tools stolen from me.”

Mr Benn mooted the idea of a WhatsApp group with police devoted solely to the thefts as an instant way of communicating.

PC Szaranek said he would feedback all ideas from the tradesmen to his superiors and added that an unmarked police car in the area was a possibility.

Cllr Wares drew positives from the meeting.

He said: “I think it is important the police now know how the community feels about this problem.

“It is also really important that people understand Patcham and Hollingbury are low crime areas.

“I don’t want the community feeling vulnerable and frightened.”

Two men were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the spate of thefts.

A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: “Two men have been arrested in connection with van thefts across Sussex. A 20-year-old man and a 26-year-old man were arrested on November 7 in connection with 38 counts of theft from a motor vehicle and interference with a vehicle across East Sussex.

“The pair have been released under investigation while an investigation continues.

“Officers are investigating to see if they are connected to the series of thefts in Brighton and Hove.”

Source: The Argus