Van owners are being warned to ensure their vehicles are secure after a recent increase of the theft of Ford Transits.
Officers have launched an operation after a substantial increase in the theft of Transits that are of a 2010 model or onwards.
And it is thought that thieves are using a new way to steal the vehicles.
Det Chief Insp Steve Thomas in charge of Operation Hewton, said: “There has been a recent spate of thefts of these vehicles so it is important that we get the warning out there about what is happening. We are doing all that we can to ensure that offenders are brought to justice and this includes working with manufacturers, partners and neighbouring forces to disrupt the market that supports this criminal activity
“I am coordinating a wide range of covert and overt operational policing activity across West Yorkshire and this includes specific operations where vehicles have been stopped by marked police vehicles or officers to ensure they have not been stolen.
“We have also carried out a number of warrants in the West Yorkshire area linked to this type of theft, made a number of arrests and recovered five stolen vans.”
There has been a 91.2 per cent increase in van theft across the force in the last six months. Of those thefts, over 60 per cent are of Ford Transits of models from 2010 or more recent. Most of those Transit thefts (72.8 per cent - or 268 thefts) are by ‘unknown’ means.
DCI Thomas added: “We believe offenders are taking the vehicles without the key - so using locksmith keys and jamming equipment and then selling them for parts.
“We are writing to all Ford Transit van owners in West Yorkshire that show up on our records to warn them about the recent increase and to tell them what they can do to reduce the threat.
“Advice includes leaving the vehicle at work whenever possible, or leaving it in a well lit area. Owners can also purchase additional security systems. If you buy anything make sure you try to buy something that are Sold Secure or Thatcham accredited / approved. A good old fashioned steering wheel lock will prevent many of these offences.
“Always ensure your vehicle is locked at all times and whenever possible do not leave tools in the back whilst not in use.
“I am also appealing directly to van owners to work with us. So if you are stopped by a marked police vehicle or officers during a policing operation please be aware that it is for a good reason as we try to bring the thieves to justice.
“Also, if anyone has information about thefts please contact police directly on 101.”