Delivery drivers working around the county in the run-up to Christmas are being warned about a spike in van thefts and assaults and are being given safety advice by Kent Police.
Since the beginning of November there have been nine reports concerning either delivery drivers who have been assaulted or vans stolen in Ashford, Dartford, Sevenoaks, Rochester, Sittingbourne and Gillingham.
Here in Sittingbourne on Thursday 19th November a van was stolen from Albany Road at around 4:00pm. The driver heard the van starting up and tried to stop the suspect. He was injured as the suspect drove away. The van had around 50 parcels inside (Crime Ref: 46/207029/20).
Kent Police are investigating all the reports across the county 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 to ensure they remain as protected as possible and stay vigilant to the offending.
The 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.
Superintendent Pete Steenhuis, from Kent Police, told SFM News: ‘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."
Police are urging people to be mindful of such incidents, stay alert and if you are expecting a delivery and see something suspicious to report the details to them immediately. Any information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, could be of great help in order to identify the offenders.
Anyone who witnessed any of these incidents or has information that could assist in any of the investigations is urged to call 01795 419119 quoting the reference shown above.