Police station thefts 'astonishing'

A police station lamp
Image caption Some thieves worked at the stations

Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment and personal belongings have been stolen from police stations across Britain, it has been revealed.

Thefts in the past five years include handcuffs, uniforms, speed guns, dogs, riot shields, and even patrol cars.

The eclectic list was revealed as a result of freedom of information requests by the Press Association.

Greater Manchester Police was the worst hit, with thieves taking a £10,000 patrol car and £30,000 private vehicle.

The force's assistant chief officer, Lynne Potts, said it took all such reports seriously and measures were in place to secure property, equipment and vehicles.

The request to every force in the UK revealed thieves had taken warrant cards, bikes, riot shields, a battering ram and breathalysers.

Among the more unusual stolen items were a small fridge from Dunstable, CCTV footage and a TV from West Oxfordshire, a packet of crumpets from Priory Road police station in Hull and a fern and plastic plant pot from Lancashire Police.

Opportunist theft

A £20 mannequin was stolen from Essex Police's kennels at Epping, a 20-pack of toilet rolls vanished from West Mercia, while at Pontefract police station, in West Yorkshire, a thief made off with a £48 tea float.

The Taxpayers' Alliance, which campaigns for greater efficiency within publicly-funded organisations, said security seemed to have been compromised at some stations and called for an investigation.

"The list of stolen items is truly astonishing and taxpayers will worry that police giving out crime prevention advice can't seem to avoid being robbed themselves," said director Emma Boon.

"Thefts from forces cost taxpayers money and all this equipment adds up to a big bill that could be reduced."

Opportunist thieves took advantage of police equipment, mobile phones and unattended computers, the information also revealed.

A police patrol car was taken from outside the station at Morpeth, Northumberland in May 2008.

A Ford Galaxy patrol car went from a station in Carnforth, Lancashire, after the keys were left briefly unattended. It was later recovered.

Other forces to be relieved of vehicles included Warwickshire, Strathclyde, Lancashire and Essex.

A terrier and a lurcher were taken from a police station in Blackburn in Lancashire and on Merseyside seized pitbulls were taken.

Amongst the low-value items were coffee worth £2.50 from Byker police station in Newcastle, a cap badge from an officer's hat in Widnes and a copy of an antiques guide worth £5 from Basildon in Essex.

Six pints of semi-skimmed milk were stolen from Cambridgeshire Police HQ in Huntington, and a £1 cereal bowl and empty lunchbox worth £3 from Hucknall police station in Nottinghamshire.

In Devon and Cornwall, items included a betting slip, bail sheet, unwritten parking ticket and a Peter Storm fleece jacket worth £60.

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