Ex-inspector slams police for failing to find his stolen £50K caravan

EXCLUSIVE Ex-inspector slams police for failing to find his stolen £50,000 caravan even though he used tracking device to give them its exact location on traveller site

  • Derek Maltby served with Avon and Somerset Police for 17 years before retiring

A former police inspector has hit out at his former force for failing to retrieve his stolen £50,000 caravan – despite giving them the exact location from his tracking device of the traveller’s site it had been taken to.

Derek Maltby, who served with Avon and Somerset Police for 17 years before retiring in 1990 reported the theft of his top-of-the-range Coachman Lusso II to his former colleagues along with the address of where to find it.

But the force said they did not have enough officers in the area to follow up on his tip telling him ‘We might have some a bit later.’

Mr Maltby, 67, who now runs his own security consultancy business, said his caravan was stolen from Bristol on November 29 and because of inaction by the police not found until two days later, 180 miles away in North Wales.

He fumed: ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous, I gave the police all the information they needed to not only get my caravan back quickly but perhaps smash a crime ring.

Former police inspector Derek Maltby had his £50,000 caravan (pictured) stolen

The 67-year-old slammed the police for not finding it after giving them its exact location

‘But they did nothing. I’d given them the exact location – the address of the travellers’ site – but radio silence. I could see via the tracker that the caravan was still there.

‘The 999 operator did not ask me any pertinent information relating to the value of the stolen caravan but for some reason I was asked my ethnicity.

‘When I rang again three hours later to inquire what was happening, the operator replied “we don’t have enough officers in the area at the moment but we might have some a bit later.”’

Mr Maltby was away working in Derbyshire and could only watch in frustration as his caravan remain parked in the traveller’s site in Avonmouth for 17-hours while nothing was done.

To make matters worse, the thieves moved the vehicle on the next morning, along the M4 and then the M5 motorway networks before stopping briefly at Michaelwood Services in Gloucestershire. Police were dispatched to the scene but arrived too late.

The caravan then made its way to Walsall in the West Midlands where the signal was lost until the following day when it showed up again in Deeside, North Wales.

Mr Maltby dialled 999 again and this time officers recovered the vehicle from just outside another traveller’s site, although none of the thieves were present.

North Wales Police are currently checking the caravan over for DNA samples. They believe it was heading to Ireland.

Mr Maltby said he keeps the caravan on a farm near his home but said the thieves used Oxychlorine to effectively melt away two wheel locks.

It was recovered with £400 worth of clothing missing and with substantial damage, including some of the electrics being ripped out.

The retired officer was able to pinpoint the location of his caravan but the police didn’t find it

Mr Maltby pictured middle talking to microphone while serving for Avon and Somerset Police

When the caravan was found, Mr Maltby had £400 worth of clothes and its battery stolen

He said: ‘The caravan remained on the travellers’ site near Avonmouth Bridge with no police investigation or attendance for 17 hours before it left on the morning of November 30 and once again I gave advice to the police as to its progress along the various motorways.

‘A police unit was dispatched to Michaelwood Services after the thieves had stopped there briefly but they’d disappeared by the time the officers arrived.

‘The tracker stopped working just past Walsall but came back on again on December 1st when the signal was picked up in North Wales.

‘The thieves had left it parked close to another travellers’ site with a trailer positioned in front of it, ironically to stop anyone stealing it.

‘Forensics have checked it for fingerprints – there are none – but they are still testing for samples of DNA. I had more than £400 worth of clothes taken and the thieves ripped out the caravan’s battery. There’s a substantial amount of damage.’

Mr Maltby joined Avon and Somerset Police in 1973 and had reached the rank of acting inspector when he took early retirement on medical grounds in 1990.

He said he had been contacted by serving and former police officers who had been left dismayed by the lack of action by the force.

Mr Maltby said: ‘There was such a good opportunity to arrest the offenders which was missed. Some of our personal possessions are gone and these could have been recovered.

‘It was such an easy nick but nothing was done and for the time being the offenders are at liberty to keep committing similar acts.

Avon and Somerset Police have apologised for the distress caused to Mr Maltby

‘If the priority of the police is to know my ethnicity but not investigate crime of a significant value, what chance the lowly shop owner with theft and the impact on their livelihood?’

Mr Maltby has now made an official complaint against his former force and added: ‘The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, Sarah Crew, should be embarrassed for the service she leads.

‘Her job is to ensure she runs an efficient and effective police service. Clearly this isn’t the case.’

Avon and Somerset Police have apologised and said their investigation into the theft is ongoing.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry for the distress Mr Maltby has suffered following the theft of his caravan from Winford, North Somerset, on Wednesday 29 November.

‘Our response to incidents is determined by the threat, harm and risked posed. Mr Maltby’s report was categorised as a “priority” but unfortunately could not be resourced at the time.

‘He has made a complaint about our initial response, and the circumstances are being reviewed by our Professional Standards Department, so we cannot comment further at this time.

‘The day after the theft our officers responded to tracker activations on the M5 and at a motorway services but found no trace of the caravan. It was subsequently found by colleagues in North Wales on Friday 01 December.

‘Our investigation continues to make progress with positive lines of enquiry being followed.’

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