Published: 14:42, 10 December 2020
| Updated: 08:56, 11 December 2020
Delivery drivers are being urged to remain vigilant after a spate of van break-ins and assaults on couriers across Kent.
A number of incidents, which has seen thieves target drivers dropping off parcels, are being investigated by Kent Police.
Since the beginning of November there has been nine reports concerning either couriers who have been assaulted or vans stolen – three of which were in Ashford, another three in the Medway Towns and one each across Dartford, Sevenoaks and Sittingbourne.
Now officers are advising parcel delivery firms, drivers and members of the public to be vigilant in an effort to reduce incidents in the busy run up to Christmas.
Superintendent Pete Steenhuis from said: "We have officers paying particular attention to this type of offending and are working with businesses to warn as many drivers as we can and offer advice to help keep them safe.
"It is clear that criminals are willing to be violent in order to get their hands on vans and parcels and we would ask everyone to be vigilant as Christmas approaches, when deliveries are busier than usual.
"Whilst officers around the county investigate these separate incidents, it is important drivers take all the necessary steps available to secure their vehicles and report anything suspicious to us straight away."
"It is clear that criminals are willing to be violent in order to get their hands on vans and parcels..."
It comes after a violent incident on Saturday in which a delivery driver in Ashford was reportedly hit with a metal bar and his silver Vauxhall Vivaro taken in Orion Way around 5.30pm.
The driver was taken to hospital for treatment and detectives investigating the incident are appealing for witnesses to come forward.
Last month two further thefts were recorded in Ashford – including a van stolen from Lower Road, Woodchurch at around 5.20pm on November 13 and then less than a week later on November 19 a vehicle was snatched from Broadmead at a similar time whilst the driver was making a delivery.
It is reported that the driver attempted to get into the van while the suspect was driving away in the direction of Stanhope Road but was unsuccessful.
The van contained around twenty parcels and was later recovered empty in Kennington.
In Sevenoaks, a driver was assaulted while walking back to his van through an alleyway in Penhurst High Street at around 4.30pm on Monday November 23.
He reported being punched in the back of the head by two men who demanded the keys to his van.
A passer-by startled the two suspects who fled the scene empty handed.
There has also been multiple reports of van thefts across the Medway Towns including a van taken from Maidstone Road in Gillingham on November 3 at around 11am.
It was reportedly driven off at speed with the back doors still open.
The vehicle was later located in Rochester where there were two further thefts in the space of a week commencing Monday November 23, starting with an incident Bells Lane in Hoo at around 11.25am where the vehicle was tracked down and recovered in Higham with all its parcels still inside.
Then just three days later on Thursday November 26 a van was stolen whilst the driver was making a delivery in Tennyson Avenue at around 5.25pm.
Elsewhere separate incidents have been recorded in Sittingbourne on Thursday November 19 where a driver was injured trying to stop his van with 50 parcels inside from being stolen in Albany Road at around 4pm.
And another incident in Dartford on Tuesday November 24 when a van was stolen while the driver was making a delivery in Victoria Road at around 5pm. The van was later recovered in Bexley.
Kent Police is investigating all the above mentioned reports and it is unknown at this stage whether the offences are linked.
Businesses, partner agencies and hauliers are being warned about the issue and offered safety advice to pass on to their drivers.
This advice includes:
• If you spot a suspicious vehicle following you, do not get out of your car or van, keep the doors locked, keep moving and call 999.
• Agree a delivery plan with your employer or family member and keep in touch regularly.
• Consider alternative routes to avoid always travelling on the same roads.
• Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged.
• If something does not feel right, don’t make the delivery and call your employer.
• Avoid areas that are not well lit, use a torch and always lock your vehicle – it only takes a minute for a thief to get into your van and take goods.
• Consider tinted windows to ensure passers-by can’t see what is inside your vehicle.
• Consider installing a tracker to assist in recovering your vehicle if it does get stolen.
Meanwhile members of the public are being urged to be mindful of such incidents, stay alert and report any suspicious behaviour to the police.
Anyone who witnessed any of these incidents or has information that could assist in any of the investigations is urged to call the following numbers quoting the references shown above:
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