A group of people have been approaching motorhome and campervan owners in Selby in recent weeks, but police now fear they are targeting people across the whole of North Yorkshire.
Earlier this month, several owners reported receiving cold callers asking to buy campervans parked on drives in and around Selby, even though they were not for sale.
A further report of similar activity has been made in the Hawes area of Richmondshire, suggesting that those responsible may now be targeting other areas.
On April 19, the owner of a motorhome was loading it in a car park when a vehicle pulled up. The driver of this vehicle asked if he could buy the motorhome. When the owner declined, the vehicle left.
North Yorkshire Police are concerned that this ongoing activity could be linked to criminality, and are urging all owners of motorhomes in North Yorkshire and York to be vigilant and check the security of their vehicles.
Inspector Clive Turner, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force, said: "Please remember, you aren’t obliged to buy anything from or sell anything to doorstep callers. Rogue traders often try to take advantage of householders by using high-pressure sales techniques, or may even be looking for opportunities to steal vehicles or property.
"In many cases, we have been able to respond to reports of suspicious activity by increasing patrols and visiting homes to gather evidence and provide crime prevention advice – so those responsible will find it increasingly difficult to target vehicles in our area.
"I’d urge everyone to remain vigilant, and follow our security advice. And if you are aware of suspicious activity, such as people appearing to take an interest in parked campervans or other high-value vehicles, contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.”
Police have released the following advice to motorhome owners:
Write your vehicle identification number (VIN) in several hidden places within the camper van. Use a permanent marker to write the VIN on the underside of drawers, in cupboards, and on wooden surfaces. Etch the VIN onto the windows using a diamond tipped engraver. This makes the vehicle easy to identify if it’s stolen.
Do not leave personal or valuable items on display inside the vehicle. Consider forensic and security marking your personal items. In particular, never leave vehicle registration documents inside the campervan – they can help a thief to sell it on.
Fix lock nuts or wheel clamps to the wheels.
Block in the campervan behind a locked gate, or with another vehicle parked in front of it.
Fit a tracking device and an alarm, and switch this on every time you leave your campervan – even if it’s just for a short time. Keep your keys with you at all times.
Call police on 101 to report suspicious people and vehicles appearing to take an interest in campervans or other high-value vehicles. If a crime is in progress, dial 999.