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Monday, 21 June 2021

Police warning as ‘skeleton keys’ used in Rushcliffe vehicle thefts

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Police investigating the theft of Ford Transits using a skeleton key are warning owners to consider buying additional security to protect their vehicles.

Following a recent warrant at a farm in Rushcliffe in April, as part Operation Sahara, officers seized a Ford Tibbe lock pick, which are typically used by locksmiths.

It was clear from the scene that Ford Transit and Ford Ranger vehicles were targeted and a skeleton combination key device was found next to a dismantled car.

The tools, which are readily available online, are used to gain access to certain makes of vehicles.

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The warning comes after proactive policing work as part of Op Sahara which cracks down on criminals who commit crimes in rural areas and steal off-road vehicles from outbuildings, farms and businesses in Nottinghamshire.

The operation, launched in December 2020, has already produced some fantastic results.

Officers are now urging Ford drivers to be vigilant and take extra precautions.

Rushcliffe neighbourhood inspector Craig Berry said: “There has been an ongoing problem with overnight thefts in and around the rural villages across Rushcliffe.

“Following the warrant earlier this year, we found a skeleton key on the floor next to the targeted cars. We would ask Ford owners to consider adding additional security such as steering locks.

“The key enables criminals to break into vehicles at will and we know that devices have been used across the country in similar incidents.

“Although tradespeople’s vans weren’t targeted in this incident, we would warn them to always remove valuable power tools from vehicles at night and to also consider investing in after-purchase locks.

“The skeleton keys are legitimate locksmith tools and people often buy them online as they are so easy to purchase.”Officers are continuing with their investigation following the searches after two people were arrested on suspicion of a theft of a motor vehicle. They have since been released under investigation.

“The Rushcliffe Reacher team and the local neighbourhood officers continue to work hard to solve this problem and we are asking for local residents to report any concerns to us.”

We would advise vehicle owners looking to avoid these types of break-ins to keep the following in mind:- Park your vehicle in a busy area when you can, and within sight of a CCTV camera for added protection.- Whenever possible, store your valuables and tools away from your vehicle.

– To help with recovery, register your tools on the Immobile register, and mark them so they’re easily identifiable.

Anyone with any information about skeleton keys being used to target vehicles is urged to call Nottinghamshire Police on 101.