computer technology and the digital world have advanced apace,
car manufacturers seem to have done little to increase the
security of vehicles.
The sound of breaking glass as yet another car window is smashed
can often be a familiar accompaniment to an evening in front
of the TV for many in parts of Bristol.
vehicles are stolen on any given night in the city creating
a problem both for the police and for fire brigade staff who
often have to attend burned-out vehicles after thieves have
set fire to them, thereby diverting resources from other -
perhaps more pressing - fires.
least that is how it may seem. And yet, in 2001 Avon Fire
Brigade embarked upon its Car Clear scheme to remove
abandoned vehicles from Bristol's streets as soon as possible.
They say the move has proved highly successful and is being
looked at by other forces around Britain.
Station officer Tony Sim said: "Four years ago you would
probably be driving around Knowle West and see dozens of abandoned
fires here literally doubled in 97, a figure which was reflected
nationally, partly as a result of the collapse in the second-hand
the year 1999-2000, 50 per cent of the incidents we attended
were burned-out car fires - that was 2,300 fires.
discovered that half of those were stolen vehicles and half
were abandoned so we thought, if we get rid of the abandoned
vehicles they can't be torched.
with the police and the local authority, we introduced a trial
scheme - car clear - in South Bristol for nine months.
"In that period while other areas of the city saw an
increase of 25 per cent in car fires, we reduced them by 3.5
now a scheme that other areas of the country are very interested
that may be scant consolation for any motorist who has had
his vehicle stolen or for anyone who lives in a area where
the screech of late-night burning rubber is an all-too familiar
Gill is a production controller who lives in Whitchurch. She
and her husband Steve have become used to gangs of youths
who run riot in the area, stealing cars and, on occasion,
setting light to them.
became so exasperated with the problem that she organised
a petition which she sent to the police and the city council.
"Since initiating this petition, our rear fence now is
subject to an insurance claim for repair of damage caused
by a motor vehicle being driven into it - probably a stolen
vehicle driven recklessly, if we go by the skid
marks in the grass," she said.
local councillor, Colin Smith, has been in touch with the
some funding seemingly has been
found to limit access to the open area.
"Cars should then find it difficult to gain access, but
it will leave us with the problem of large numbers of youths
- sometimes this can approach 40, boys and girls - and motor
have had some torchings and abandonment of stolen cars in
the area but, admittedly, the evidence has usually been removed
by early the following morning."