West Midlands lorry hijackers targeted by police

Lorry drivers could be putting themselves and their valuable cargo at risk when they park up at night

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Lorry hijackers are being targeted by police from across the West Midlands, a region regarded as a hotspot for such crimes.

"A truck is a mobile warehouse and even with a basic load you could look at many hundreds of thousands of pounds," said PC Steve Rounds, of the Central Motorway Police Group.

"And that's on a vehicle parked on a secluded lay-by with just the driver there as security."

It is big problem that is big business for criminals - goods worth £25m were stolen from lorries across the UK in 2010, according to the most recent national figures.

PC Rounds works with colleagues from the Staffordshire, West Mercia and West Midlands force areas.

They are at the heart of the country's transport network and hope to start catching thieves in the act, with the help of a specially modified lorry.

"What we're intending to do is set this vehicle with 16 covert cameras inside and outside so that we can monitor whatever is happening and film the criminality," he continued.

"If a gang attacks the vehicle it'll set off a silent alarm to alert us.

"We can look at and record the actions that go on and have teams deployed to arrest the offenders in the act."

Consumers hit

Gavin Wright runs a Birmingham-based haulage company that had two lorries hijacked in the space of a year.

He says it is consumers who end up paying for the crimes.

PC Steve Rounds PC Rounds has helped fit a lorry with covert cameras to catch thieves

Mr Wright said: "It's cost the company over £100,000 worth of contracts a year.

"It's increased our insurance premiums by about 10% and we've had to look in terms of driver training.

"The ultimate end user is the one that pays because transport costs obviously have to go up."

PC Rounds believes fitting all lorries with more technology and increasing the number of secure parking locations will help reduce the problem.

He added: "It's quite difficult because quite often the places where these crimes get committed are quite remote.

"They're in countryside areas that are difficult to get to.

"What we need really is a vehicle fitted with security systems like you'd have on a cash-in-transit truck but that we can monitor and we can have teams ready to move in when crimes are detected and arrest the offenders.

"Hopefully that will filter through the organised crime gangs that the police are doing something about truck crime, that it is important to us, and we are going to catch the criminals in the act."

The story featured on Inside Out on BBC One West Midlands which will will be available nationwide until 12 November on the iPlayer.

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