You could be forgiven for thinking that items in the care of the police would be as safe as houses.
That certainly the roof of a police station would be out of bounds.
But details in a Freedom of Information request have flagged up a high tally of thefts, totalling £95,000, from the police or police premises over a five-year period.
And while some items have been recovered and thieves caught, many have left West Yorkshire Police Force out of pocket.
A PCSO’s hat, windscreen wipers, handcuffs, a baton and body armour were all stolen, along with higher value hauls such as cash and electrical items worth £23,000 taken from Harold Court in Bradford, a £5,000 motorbike taken from Heckmondwike Police station and a £10,000 police car stolen, and later found, in Shipley.
Cheeky thieves even took roof tiles from the main station in Cleckheaton and roofing material from Trafalgar House in Bradford.
The value of the hauls runs into many thousands of pounds and the value of unrecovered items between January 2008 and May 2013 stands at £27,470 in Bradford and surrounding areas.
The police said the information showed that even they were not immune to criminals’ actions, but the chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance Jonathan Isaby said it raised questions.
“If taxpayers can’t trust the police to look after expensive equipment how can they trust them to catch criminals and protect the public?
“Some of these losses are clearly a case of some very cheeky thieves, but other items could pose a real danger to the public if misused. Officers need to keep better track of items to ensure that taxpayers’ money isn’t wasted on replacing kit and even roof tiles,” he said.
Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd (District Policing East) said the thefts had reduced over the past two years.
“The clear message is that police officers and police equipment are not completely immune from the criminal actions of a few offenders. Although the number of items stolen has substantially reduced over the past two years, there are still a small number of outstanding and undetected cases,” he said.
“It is important that the figures are placed in the correct context. The circumstances in which police property can be stolen includes property taken from officers’ homes, their vehicles or when they are engaged in operational duty.
“In the latter case, officers attend literally hundreds of thousands of incidents every year. On the rare occasion when someone picks up the dropped or mislaid set of handcuffs, lost by officers chasing a suspect for instance, they are supporting their local officer in the execution of their duty. When they choose to keep the item, rather than return it to the officers that are there to protect them, they commit a criminal offence.
“We will continue to focus on reducing theft and bringing to justice those who think it is acceptable to steal from an emergency service. If any property is of a sensitive nature, such as a mobile phone or a radio, the item is immediately disabled to prevent tit being used.”
Some of the items stolen from police include:
Baton, worth £30, taken from West Bowling
PCSO hat, £50, Springhead Road, Bradford
Confiscated alcohol, £10, Elliott Street, Keighley
Body armour, £180, Lawcroft House Police Station, Bradford
Door ram, £200, Springmill Street, Bradford
Roof tiles, value unknown, Cleckheaton Police Station
Handcuffs, £30, Bridge Street Centre, Keighley
Roofing materials, £500, Trafalgar House, Bradford
Windscreen wipers, £20, Cleckheaton Police Station
White square timer, £10, Trafalgar House, Bradford