Copyright 2004 Midland Independent Newspapers plc
May 13, 2004, Thursday
SECTION: First Edition; NEWS; Pg. 2
LENGTH: 438 words
HEADLINE: ACTION CALL AS BLACK COUNTRY BECOMES LORRY THEFT HOTSPOT
BYLINE: HELEN GABRIEL
BODY: The Black Country Chamber of Commerce has called for urgent action to tackle the growing problem of lorry theft which is costing West Midlands hauliers millions of pounds each year.
The region was described as a hotspot for the theft of lorries and their loads, which costs the national economy more than half a billion pounds annually.
Mike Holder, president of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said a partnership was needed between local business groups and police to tackle the problem.
He suggested seminars and workable action plans in an effort to protect hauliers and detect criminals.
‘I accept that the police cannot tackle the problem alone but I do believe that the matter needs urgent action,’ said Mr Holder. ‘I believe there is an opportunity for genuine business people, both within the road haulage industry and beyond, to become involved in at least the intelligence gathering element of the matter.’
Colin Hagan, regional policy manager for the Freight Transport Association, said: ‘The West Midlands is one of the worst places in the country for this sort of crime. We would welcome this kind of action.
‘There is a general perception by local hauliers that not enough is being done by police to make lorry crime a priority.’
Chris Kelly, who is a member of Black Country Chamber and runs Keltruck, an HGV firm in West Bromwich, is calling for a West Midlands working group to be set up consisting of representatives from local businesses and transport firms.
He said: ‘The West Midlands is considered to be a crime hot-spot by hauliers, which gives us all cause for concern. Recently one driver was even kidnapped with his lorry.
‘Hauliers carrying high value loads can no longer go about their business safely in the region. We are considered a danger zone and the situation is spiralling out of control.’
George Munro, director of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Almost 95 per cent of our goods travel by lorry and if we can’t get them to and from market safely then we are in dire trouble.’
A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said: ‘Operation Coppergold is an ongoing regional initiative aimed at tackling thefts of lorries and their loads across the Midlands.
‘We hold regular meetings with professional organisations such as the National Stolen Lorry Load Desk and also meet monthly with our counterparts in the regional forces.
‘In the past, analysis has shown the West Midlands, particularly the Black Country and surrounding area, is affected by this type of crime, mainly due to the close proximity of a major motorway network.’