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London roads in 'lockdown' as Met works with Home Counties' police services to stop keyless vehicle thieves
Around 350 officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and Home Counties' police services are targeting vehicle thieves on main roads out of London today, Thursday, 5 February.
This is part of the MPS' coordinated activity to combat keyless vehicle theft, known as Operation Endeavour.
Last year more than 6,000 cars and vans across London were stolen without the owners' keys.
Intelligence suggests that such vehicles are quickly driven out to the Home Counties, where many are stripped down to their component parts at locations known as "slaughter houses" in as little as 30 minutes.
From there, the vehicle parts are exported as far afield as Africa. Parts fetch as much as £1,000 for an engine and £10,000 for a whole vehicle.
As of midday today, around 20 arterial roads out of London are being monitored by plainclothes and uniform officers from the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Bureau, Dogs Unit, local police teams, Territorial Support Group, Air Support Unit, as well as officers from Kent, Essex, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley Police.
Vehicles reported as stolen or linked to vehicle crime are being stopped and ANPR interception vehicles are on standby to pursue suspects who try to evade police.
This operation, known as a 'lockdown', is one element of the enforcement activity taking place this week as part of Operation Endeavour - the MPS campaign to tackle keyless vehicle theft.
The campaign follows an eight per cent increase in vehicle theft across London in the last year, believed to be the result of organised criminals increasingly targeting keyless or remotely controlled vehicles.
Detective Chief Superintendent Carl Bussey, lead for Operation Endeavour, said: "This week, hundreds of officers have been out in local communities, urging drivers to take extra steps to protect their vehicles, this week.
"Today's activity is one element of the coordinated proactive enforcement we are doing with the Home Counties to stop the thieves, and recover the vehicles.
"Keyless vehicle theft is organised and there are crime groups making a lot of money from selling on the cars and vans they steal. This money is going back into committing serious crime in our communities. We are determined to reduce the number of criminals damaging our communities in this way."
For more information and advice on keyless vehicle theft, see www.met.police.uk/keylessvehicletheft