Police 'won't throw money' at investigating Bristol tool thefts

Tools in van
Image caption Police urged people who had to leave tools in vans to keep them inside lockable cages

A top police officer says he refuses to "throw taxpayers' money around as a placebo" to investigate tool theft amid complaints of an "epidemic" in Bristol.

Some builders claim the area is "rife" with tool thefts from work vans and were unhappy with the police response.

One said Avon and Somerset Police were refusing to investigate and had asked them to find CCTV footage themselves.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: "We do care, we do want to turn up, but we have to make smart decisions."

Mr Marsh told BBC Radio Bristol: "What we've found is routinely attending car crime with forensics is remarkably unproductive.

"Few of them - one in 100 - turn up any evidence we can do anything with and what we won't do is throw taxpayers' money around as a placebo to make people feel better."

Builder Paul Hughes said: "I've worked all over the country but in Bristol - which is the city we love - it's just rife and we're easy targets."

Chris Wood, another builder in the city, said he was considering whether to actually work in Bristol any more.

'No-one came'

He said he was also looking at whether to start "charging a premium" for jobs in the city as "we know [tool theft] is going to happen".

Mr Wood said calling 101 after finding his tools stolen had been "useless".

He added: "Other than getting a crime reference number, it's all down to you as the individual now, no-one came to look."

Mr Marsh said officers were struggling to investigate tool thefts, alongside the workload of knife crime, drugs and domestic incidents they had to attend every day.

He added: "If I told my staff 'you've got to do everything', they would do a poor job of everything, so we have to make tough choices."

Police urged people who had to leave tools in vans to keep them inside lockable cages inside the vehicles and consider parking their vans up against a wall or another vehicle to help prevent thefts.

They also urged people not to buy second-hand tools if they were unsure where they came from.

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