Thieves steal over £7,000 of property from Derbyshire police in three years
A FLASHING blue light, a fingerprint dye pad and a quad bike are among more than £7,000 of property stolen in the past three years ... from the police.
One officer had his radio and cigarettes taken, while another had a fleece stolen.
Crooks have even targeted police vehicles, pinching sat-navs, £800 worth of cameras, wing mirror glass and a petrol cap.
The details of items stolen from Derbyshire police since 2009 were released to the Derby Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act.
They included two motorcycles stolen from Heanor police station, a chain saw and strimmer pinched from force headquarters in Ripley, a knuckle-duster taken from a police vehicle, mobile phone nicked from an officer on duty and £705 in cash plus £19.16 worth of sweets stolen from constabulary offices in St Mary's Wharf.
In 13 of 33 cases, items were recovered by officers and in 12 cases an arrest was made.
Inspector Mark Pickard, the head of Derbyshire Police Federation, which represents the county's officers, said that attitudes towards police had changed over the years.
He said: "Years ago, doing something to a police officer, like stealing or assault, was a big no – you just didn't do it.
"But today I don't think it would be seen as anything worse than doing it to another person.
"I don't know why people would steal from the police – perhaps it is just the bravado of doing it. It could be seen as winding a police officer up."
But he condemned the thefts because officers are serving the local community and it is the taxpayer that has to pick up the bill for replacing the stolen items.
He said: "I understand if a police radio is taken by a criminal because they might have a use for it. But they only have limited battery power anyway and we can just zap it off.
"There have been times when hats and various other items have been stolen if there has been a scuffle. I think it's opportunists being caught up in the moment more than thinking, 'I've got a use for this'."
Insp Pickard said that officers who had items go missing must report it to the force – and in some cases they are disciplined.
He said: "If anything is stolen from a police officer then they would need to report the circumstances in which it was lost.
"A police officer could get in trouble, particularly if it is seen that they were negligent regarding the theft, such as if they went into a shop to buy something, put an item down and then forgot to pick it up. In a circumstance like that, they could be disciplined.
"However, to be dismissed from the police, it would need to be really, really serious – more or less if the officer has been part of the theft.
"Generally speaking, they would get a warning. Losing an item or having it stolen would be seen as not achieving the standards expected of a police officer.
"I can't see many opportunists pickpocketing a police officer but, at the end of the day, I think there are more people than not who don't hate the police."
A spokeswoman for Derbyshire police said: "From time to time, items are stolen from officers who are dealing with incidents, or from police property, including stations, compounds and vehicles. In some situations, such as cases of public disorder, it's possible for things such as helmets and handcuffs to be stolen from officers while they are dealing with the incident.
"The figures show that, in many cases, the stolen items are recovered and the offenders arrested.
"We treat all thefts seriously, whether they are from police property or not."
Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said items stolen from the police would leave a dent in the public purse.
She said: "Taxpayers will worry that the police giving out crime-prevention advice can't seem to avoid becoming victims of theft themselves.
"It is taxpayers who will pick up the bill for replacing stolen items – this means less money left to spend on fighting crime.
"When money is tight, the police can't afford for their kit to go walkabout."