Call the police, there's been a theft down at the..er, station
Documents obtained by the Evening News show thieves have netted loot worth more than 6000 from police vehicles and stations in the past three years.
As well as the red-faced officers who had their station keys stolen, high-value items including two motorbikes have been taken. Smaller thefts recorded include a police baton, a panic alarm and even a tin of coffee worth 45.
Light-fingered police station visitors lifted 625.53 in cash, dozens of police issue caps, spectacles and car wing mirrors. Ambitious thieves even made off with a mattress.
Councillor Iain Whyte, convener of the Lothian and Borders Police Board, said: "They're a very large organisation and they have a lot of equipment. Obviously, any measures that can be taken to prevent theft of property or property in police care should be taken, and the more that can be done the better.
"I hope that this information becoming public will make sure that the Chief Constable will make renewed efforts to ensure their security in the future. In comparative terms, 6000 is not a lot. I imagine if you compared it to any other major public organisation and scaled it to size, it would be a relatively small amount."
The blue flashing beacon was taken from a police car last year, when the tally also included a hand-held computer – which police are at pains to point out was encrypted, protecting the data it contained.
The figures were obtained from Lothian and Borders Police under a freedom of information request. They include property which was being held as evidence and property which belonged to visitors to police stations.
The number of thefts from police appears to be declining, however, with only 650 worth of items stolen in 2007 and 400 worth of goods so far this year – including a police warrant card.
Fellow Police Board member Councillor Ian Murray added: "I suppose the police aren't immune to petty crime – just like the rest of us. You would think that police stations are more secure but I suppose with the types of people that are going through a police station, maybe they are more likely to have things stolen. I'm sure people who steal from police stations are obviously opportunists who see something and think they're going to take it."
A force spokesman said: "Theft from any type of property – be it a police station or otherwise – is something we take extremely seriously, and anyone caught stealing will be dealt with appropriately."