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Gang of balaclava-clad car thieves carry out nearly 30 burglaries in Sutton Coldfield and Erdington in a week

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A gang of thieves are believed to be behind a car key burglary epidemic in Sutton Coldfield and Erdington responsible for almost 30 break-ins in just one week.

Police have issued a warning after a staggering 28 car key burglaries were recorded in the two towns between Thursday, November 15 and Thursday November 22.

PCSO Saul Smith from the Four Oaks Neighbourhood Team said: “Recently Sutton and Four Oaks have been targeted by car key burglars, a total of 28 offences have occurred between the November 15 and 22.

“The offences mainly occur between 2am and 3am in the morning, and 4pm and 6pm in the evening.

A family suffered a devastating break-in at their home in Bishops Way, Four Oaks, with an expensive Audi stolen while they slept
A family suffered a devastating break-in at their home in Bishops Way, Four Oaks, with an expensive Audi stolen while they slept

“Offenders are targeting high value vehicles such as Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover, and Volkswagens.”

And the crime spree is being put down to just a small number of offenders.

PCSO Smith said: “It appears there are between two and four white male offenders, normally wearing dark clothing, sometimes balaclavas. They garden hop over fences to access the rear of properties.

“The motive appears to be the theft of high value motor vehicles, but other valuable items such as laptops, cash and jewellery have also been taken.”

The police are urging homeowners to take extra precautions.

“It seems that they have been deterred by house alarms sounding, so please use them if fitted, part set at night, and fully set when you are out,” PCSO Saul added.

“Another good deterrent is the use of security lights, timers to activate internal lights to make it look though a house is occupied.

“The offenders snap locks to gain entry to properties so the fitting of anti-snap locks is highly recommended.

“Car tracker and steering locks are recommended for owners of high value motor vehicles.”

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police confirmed the 28 break-ins since last Thursday were across Sutton and Erdington, with 15 burglaries in Four Oaks so far this month – four of those involving cars being taken.

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BirminghamLive reported on a frightening break-in at Bishops Way, Four Oaks on November 6 . Thieves broke in to a home at 1am as a family slept – stole keys to three vehicles – including to a van that had been deliberately parked blocking the driveway.

They then moved the van and stole a £50,000 A7 Audi Quattro, leaving the van dumped in the middle of the road. Wallets and purses were also taken.

While three days later masked carjackers attacked a man in Knighton Drive, Four Oaks and beat him on the head, after he had handed the keys to his Audi RS6 over.

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Car key burglaries

And that incident followed a double carjacking at Sutton’s Princess Alice Retail Park on Sunday, November 4 were an elderly man and a woman in her 20s were attacked by men wearing balaclavas, with an Audi A3 convertible and a Volkswagen Golf taken.

A serving police officer, who lives in Sutton, has posted on the Four Oaks Neighbourhood News Facebook page and said the force is doing its best despite ‘a lack of police resources.

They said: “I am a resident in the Four Oaks area. I can offer some reassurance that the area is getting patrolled by police traffic resources but due to lack of police resources in general, there is no hiding the facts that car key burglary is an epidemic that is spreading across all areas of the West Midlands.

House burglaries are a method car thieves use to gain keys

“Unfortunately, there are ridiculous numbers of people becoming victims of this dreadful crime, due to the amount of people out there committing it.

“I would offer the following advice.

1) If you have a keyless car, then invest in a Faraday bag costing approximately £5 on eBay. This will prevent your car being started by means of relay theft.

2) Invest in a steering Disklok. They cost approximately £90 and cover the whole steering wheel.

3) A security post on your drive is a great deterrent. It would take time and noise to remove it, something these people will avoid.

4) Ensure you have anti-snap locks on your front and rear doors. Normal locks will take approximately five seconds to snap. Anti-snap locks are not expensive and are very effective.

5) CCTV is beneficial but in most cases, these people will ignore it as they are covered up with hoods/balaclavas etc and will commit crime regardless.

6) A house alarm is an excellent deterrent.

7) Follow ‘Stolen Car Midlands’ on Facebook. It is a great way of seeing what cars to look out for that have been stolen and maybe getting parked up in your street or even used to commit further crimes. It’s also a great way of letting other people know that your car has been stolen and for others to look out for it.

“I would like to reiterate that even having all of the above may not prevent the crime happening, but criminals want it easy, so the more difficult you make it for them then they are more likely to leave your property alone and go somewhere else.”

West Midlands Police said crime prevention advice can be found www.west-midlands.police.uk/safermotors . A spokesperson for the force said: “If you see something suspicious please report it either by calling 101, or visiting www.west-midlands.police.uk where live chat is available.

“In an emergency always call 999.”

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