POLICE are stepping up patrols at Pontefract’s isolated Monkhill railway station after 17 thefts there in the last six months.
Investigators from the British Transport Police (BTP) are cracking down on opportunist thieves targeting vehicles parked at the station, which earlier this year council and transport bosses earmarked for a security makeover.
Officers have released CCTV images of a man they want to speak to in connection with the latest attack where an Omega watch, iPad and bag were swiped from a vehicle in the early hours of November 11.
PC Omid Aslanbeigi, investigating officer, said: “After viewing CCTV footage, we have managed to isolate an number images of a man we would like to speak to.
“We believe that the man may have put on a distinctive orange high visibility coat as shown in one of the images.
“If you recognise the man pictured, of have any information in relation to the spate of thefts from vehicles at the station, we would like to hear from you.
“Your information could be vital to the investigation.”
PC Aslanbeigi said officers had increased patrols in the area.
A masterplan to give the station a makeover was given the green light by Wakefield Council chiefs in February.
But Metro bosses say the scheme – drawn up in association with the council and Pontefract Civic Society – is on hold due to franchise problems.
Coun James Lewis, Metro chairman, said improvements to the station were on hold due to national problems over ownership of the West Coast route, which was affecting franchises all over the country.
He said: “We are continuing to work with the council, National Rail and Network Rail to get a clearer picture.
“But in terms of station improvements at Monkhill, a lot of things are up in the air.”
The scheme included proposals to provide more car parking spaces, additional CCTV, improved lights and the possibility of a bus service to and from the station,
Peter Cookson, president of the civic society, said: “It’s our view that it’s absolutely obvious, the problem with thefts at Monkhill station is isolation.
“Monkhill Lane needs to be continued and bought out at Ferrybridge Road which will bring it into better surveillance.
“Passing traffic and people is far better than CCTV because if someone sees something they will ring the police.
“But until we can get that sorted I think there will always be problems.”
Council bosses said they are still working with partners to provide better facilities at Monkhill station.
Keith Bloomfield, the council’s traffic and transportation service manager, said: “We are working with Metro to seek funding to make improvements to the existing car parking facilities.
“Included in the proposals is improved lighting and the installation of CCTV, which would help deter thieves and help people using the station feel safer.”
BTP is urging rail users to ensure they have locked their vehicles, leaving nothing on display and leaving the glove box open to show there is nothing inside.
If you recognise the man pictured, or have any information that could assist police with their enquiries, contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 quoting background log B8/NEA of 28/11/2012 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.