Police in Blitz on Car Crime

Police today declared “psychological war” on car-jackers who break into Midland homes and terrorise occupants before stealing their vehicles. Organised gangs are resorting to extreme measures to steal luxury cars because new security has put the brakes on them hot-wiring parked cars. But incidents in recent years have left a trail of tragedy. Heart fm presenter Tushar died after he tried to tackle a gang of thugs who kicked their way into his Castle Bromwich home for the keys to his BMW.

And garage owner Henry Raybould, aged 75, was run over and killed while trying to stop thieves taking a custom-er’s car at his business in Lower Gornal, Dudley.

Last year, a man from Shirley was stabbed as he wrestled with a gang trying to steal his wife’s car.

Now the gangs are the main target of a month-long West Midlands Police operation codenamed Momentum, which aims to put the brakes on a seasonal rise in crime.

To support the autumn crime blitz, senior officers will

attempt to put “psychological” pressure on crooks, by using a pair of hawk-like eyes which will be emblazoned on the side of more than 100 buses across the region.

The adverts will also feature the motto: “We’re keeping an eye on criminals.”

The idea is based on a psychological study that showed images of eyes in public helped improve the behaviour of people who felt they were being constantly watched.

Police will also be combating a huge number of thefts of satellite navigation systems from parked cars. Despite a massive educational push urging drivers not to leave them behind hundreds still get stolen every month.

There will also be patrols around schools to target the teenage robbers preying on their classmates.

Nick Tofiluk, who is leading Operation Momentum, said: “So far, 2006 has been a positive year for West Midlands Police and crime is currently down by five per cent across the region.

“However, we know this time of year traditionally sees an upturn in criminal activity. We want to combat this and we’re doing this by the individual OCUs tackling what affects them most, whether it be burglary, violent crime or criminal damage.

“We want to make a real impact as we have previously done with this type of forcewide campaign and high profile activity.”

Each of the nine operational command units in Birmingham will launch their own plans to combat crime causing particular problems on the estates they police and will be working to provide crime safety advice.