Police recruit thief for Christmas
A police force has enlisted the help of a former drug addict and prolific thief in a bid to combat vehicle crime in the run-up to Christmas, it has been said.
James Hazell, 25, broke into more than 100 cars during his 10-year criminal career.
The former heroin addict from Leicester stole from cars, committed burglary and shoplifted to fund his £50-a-day habit.
But after two prison sentences, he kicked the drug and has been enlisted by Leicestershire Police to help fight the traditional rise in vehicle crime in the festive season.
Mr Hazell is offering advice to motorists about the type of things which attract thieves and the measures they can take to reduce the risk of becoming victims. He said: "I'd go out at night and try car doors and boots. It's hard to believe how many people leave their cars unlocked.
"It doesn't matter what car it is, you can get into any car through the boot. I once stole a £700 camera that had been left in the boot of an unlocked car. I'd also peer in the windows to see if there was anything left in the car. If I thought something was there I wouldn't think twice, I'd just pop the window.
"People sometimes leave things like satnavs and the front of radios under seats, but that's the first place I would look. Even if I thought I'd only get a fiver for something, I'd still break in. When you're on drugs you want anything you can get. People really need to be careful, especially at this time of year. They are often an easy target because they're rushing about getting ready for Christmas and they don't think about their car."
A video of the 25-year-old, who is nearing the end of his supervision period with the Probation Service, has also been posted on YouTube, giving security tips. As well as targeting criminals, police today said officers will be patrolling local car parks in the run-up to Christmas and maintaining a "high visibility presence".
Inspector Toby Day said: "Unfortunately at this time of year we do tend to see a rise in car crime, especially thefts from vehicles. We also find that, despite repeated warnings from the police, people still leave items on show in their vehicles which is often all the invitation a thief needs to break in.
"We hope that by working with James, we can give motorists an insight into the type of things which encourage criminals to break into certain cars and measures members of the public can take to prevent this. The message is simple - by taking a few simple steps you can significantly reduce your risk of becoming a victim of car crime."