Police are closing in on Hitchin’s ‘serial slasher’ – and explain town’s high shop theft figures

Duncan Sales, the safer neighbourhood team inspector for North Hertfordshire.

Duncan Sales, the safer neighbourhood team inspector for North Hertfordshire. - Credit: Archant

Police say they believe they know who is behind the spate of tyre slashings which have Hitchin drivers nervously checking their motors every morning – but have yet to arrest the culprit behind the string of attacks over the past fortnight.

There are now 18 attacks officially on the police logs affecting nine different streets.

But Insp Duncan Sales of the North Herts safer neighbourhood team told Tuesday night’s meeting of North Herts District Council’s Hitchin area committee: “We believe we know who he is. It’s just a matter of time until we catch them.”

The slashings have been reported in Whitehurst Avenue, Bearton Avenue, Highbury Road, Lancaster Avenue, York Road, Baliol Road, and in Kershaws Hill, Lyle’s Row and St Andrew’s Place.

The first was reported on Friday, February 19, and the most recent was on Thursday last week.

At the same meeting Insp Sales also confirmed thefts in Hitchin are up 29 per cent – a figure which includes shoplifting from stores in the town.

There were 212 recorded thefts from the period February 2014 to February 2015 – with a total of 273 between February 2015 to last month.

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His colleague Sgt Stephen Oliphant told the audience, which included a number of Hitchin councillors: “While we have seen an increase in the number of thefts from shops, we have been able to detect a significantly higher number of these crimes than was possible previously.

“We continue to strengthen our relationship with local businesses through initiatives such as Shop Watch, as well as having officers on patrol in the town, which assists us in the effective fight against this type of crime. We will continue this work to help keep Hitchin a safe place to live and work.”

But robberies are down 50 per cent with 22 reported between February 2014 to the same month in 2015 – and only 11 in the 12 months to last week.