Lorry thefts spark secure parking plea

Image caption,
The Road Haulage Association has called for more secure parking sites for lorries

Lorry drivers transporting essential supplies across the country are being targeted by criminal gangs amid a shortage of safe parking, hauliers say.

One driver who had goods stolen when he was parked up said gangs were "running it like a business".

The National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) said from January to September goods worth £48m had been taken in 3,016 lorry thefts in the UK.

The Road Haulage Association has called for more secure parking sites for HGVs.

It estimates there is a national shortage of 11,000 safe overnight parking places for lorries - making drivers and their vehicles vulnerable to crime.

The Department for Transport said it recognised the "important contribution that delivery drivers make to the nation, the economy, and business".

"We are aware of the concerns that many drivers and operators have expressed about the provision, quality and value of lorry parking in the UK," a spokesman added.

'Chancing your luck'

Image caption,
Philip Clarke's lorry was targeted by thieves while he was parked up overnight

Philip Clarke's lorry was targeted by thieves in Thorne while he was asleep. They attacked the trailer, slashed open the vehicle's curtain and made off with some of the stock.

Mr Clarke said a new set of curtains for had cost about £2,000, and the lorry also had to be off the road for repairs - which all added up.

Mr Clarke said: "You're stuck there waiting for the police to arrive, to get a crime number…and then it's the implications for your customers, with you getting broken into and damage to their goods."

He added: "It's organised crime. People know exactly what they are doing, and it's run like a business.

"You can't be going out and trying to get them to stop because you don't know if they're equipped or if they've got knives or anything like that.

"There's only a handful of places that I could say I could safely park in - the rest of it you're just chancing your luck."

'Devastating effect'

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Mike Dawber of the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service said cargo crime affects everyone

Mike Dawber, a field intelligence officer with NaVCIS, said thieves tend to target lorries using arterial routes - such as the A1, M62 or M1 in West Yorkshire.

NaVCIS is a national police unit that "works to protect communities in the UK from the harm caused by vehicle finance crime and associated serious and organised crime".

Mr Dawber said: "Cargo crime has an effect on everyone in the UK, in that it's hitting consumers' pockets as a result of any theft or losses [and] they also struggle to get goods delivered to them when they desire them.

"The haulage industry in general is working to tight margins, so any significant losses or thefts can have a devastating effect on them."

He added: "By working closely with industry and the police, we are improving awareness of secure parking standards to increase the number of lorry parks in the UK that have enhanced security measures.

"Only a small amount of parking locations in the UK are deemed 'secure' or 'safe'. It's important to recognise this as more than 70% of offences take place at unsafe or unsecure locations."

Shortage of spaces

Image caption,
Tom Cotton said lorries can be "a fairly easy target, especially if they are parked in lay-bys"

The Road Haulage Association's Tom Cotton said the organisation had been lobbying government for years about more safe overnight parking for lorries.

Mr Cotton said: "The RHA consider the shortage every night of 11,000 spaces, and the problem is getting worse.

"The government in the pandemic very early on identified lorry drivers as key workers - sadly that doesn't seem to be reflected in the facilities that are provided.

"We've seen recently significant load thefts, especially with white goods in the run-up to Christmas.

"Lorries are a fairly easy target, especially if they are parked in lay-bys. "

Secure facilities

Image caption,
Rob Exelby runs a lorry parking site in North Yorkshire that can hold 140 vehicles

Rob Exelby, managing director of Exelby Services, runs a secure truck park in North Yorkshire for 140 trucks with manned security patrols, CCTV and security fencing.

The site has a fuel station, truck wash, restaurant, shop, toilets, shower facilities and WiFi.

Mr Exelby said: "[We're] making sure that we've got secure facilities where drivers can get a hot meal, get the truck washed and refuelled.

"These guys spend most of their working lives on the road, so when they are parking up at night they need to make sure they're stopping somewhere secure and get a good night's sleep."

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