But Scotland’s largest force has fallen foul of opportunistic criminals who made off with three police vehicles.
The theft of the three Strathclyde Police vehicles, worth a combined £20,000, is just one of a series of thefts from police stations throughout the UK over the past five years.
Handcuffs, uniforms, speed guns and even dogs have been stolen. The more bizarre items taken include a mannequin and a pack of toilet rolls.
The catalogue of thefts, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, shows the hauls included warrant cards, bikes, riot shields, breathalysers, and a red “door whammer” used by officers to break into houses.
Equipment and personal belongings worth hundreds of thousands of pounds has been stolen from forces across the UK.
The force with the highest value of goods stolen was Greater Manchester Police at £86,910. Other forces with high-value losses include Strathclyde (£22,524), Northumbria (£19,858), Essex (£15,406) and Surrey (£9,657).
Among the more high-value thefts was of cars, with Strathclyde having three vehicles stolen in 2009.
In May 2008, in Morpeth, Northumberland, a £12,000 Northumbria Police patrol car was stolen. The thief took the vehicle, which was parked outside the station, and crashed it, causing damage to two parked cars.
Private vehicles were also stolen from police compounds in several force areas.
The FOI request also reveals that thefts of several dogs were reported. At a police station in Blackburn, two dogs – a terrier and a lurcher – that had been seized as evidence were stolen by a “known offender” who was attending a pre-arranged meeting with an RSPCA inspector. And in Merseyside, seized pitbull dogs were taken in separate incidents in 2006-7 and 2007-8 from the Liverpool North district.
But many of the thefts were opportunist, with thieves taking small, low-value items they could conceal easily – coffee worth £2.50 was taken from Byker police station in Newcastle, while a cap badge from an officer’s hat was stolen at Widnes police station.
Some of the more bizarre items stolen include a packet of crumpets worth 50p from Priory Road police station in Hull, a fern and green plastic pot taken from Lancashire Police, and a £20 mannequin stolen from Essex Police’s kennels at Epping. In Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in October 2008 a thief stole an A to Z, while in December 2008 six pints of semi-skimmed milk were taken from Cambridgeshire Police HQ in Huntington.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance called for an investigation. Campaign director Emma Boon said: “Taxpayers will worry that police giving out crime prevention advice can’t seem to avoid being robbed themselves.
“Thefts cost taxpayers money and all this equipment adds up to a big bill that could be reduced. At a time when money is tight police can’t afford for expensive kit to just disappear.”