Police issue warning to Trafford Centre shoppers after recent rise in vehicle thefts

The police force and shopping centre have worked together to launch the new 'Operation Lexford'.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 26th January 2023

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has issued a warning to all shoppers driving to the Trafford Centre after a recent rise in car thefts.

After reports that more vehicles have been stolen from one of the UK’s largest shopping centres than ever before, with GMP saying it’s seeing a trend of offenders using signal jamming and scanning devices to steal vehicles, the police force has decided to launch a new operation called Operation Lexford.

In order to prevent crime and target those going to Trafford to steal specific types of vehicles, GMP worked in partnership with the Trafford Centre security team to set up the new operation.

Operation Lexford is aimed at “robustly tackling vehicle theft in Trafford”.

Since the creation of the operation on 10 January 2023, officers have made 11 arrests and recovered one vehicle – with GMP saying it is specifically seeing Range Rovers and Ford Fiesta cars targeted the most by theives.


“Cars are of great value to people and we understand that having a car stolen can have a huge impact both financially and emotionally,” admits Chief Inspector Shoheb Chowdhury of GMP’s Trafford District.

“As part of the operation, there will be an increased police presence at the Trafford Centre and we will also be holding weekly police surgeries with focus on providing people with tailored crime prevention advice.


“We will continue to work to bring offenders to justice, but I would ask that the public to help us to help them, by being vigilant when visiting the Trafford Centre.”

Addressing the recent rise in car theft, and the new operation set up to tackle the problem, a spokesperson from Trafford Centre said: “Our security and customer services teams take car theft very seriously and we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police on this issue.

“We minimise car theft on-site through the use of ANPR, CCTV and camera patrols so all vehicles entering and leaving the car parks are monitored and logged, and we also deploy high profile patrols in all car parks to deter thieves and run multiple police operations on-site to apprehend offenders.


“This data and footage is made available to GMP as required.”

Police issue warning to Trafford Centre shoppers after recent rise in car thefts / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Alongside its warning, GMP has also issued some tips for shoppers and highlighted a number of ways to minimise the threat of a vehicle being taken when it is parked:

  • Double check that your car is locked when leaving it, don’t just rely on the fob as signals can be blocked, preventing vehicles locking.
  • Invest in a faraday bag – they are lined with metal material and could help block the key’s signal.
  • Don’t leave any valuables on display in your car, even loose change can attract attention.
  • Invest in a tracking device – it won’t stop the vehicle being stolen, but it can significantly increase the chances of police locating and returning a vehicle to the rightful owner.
  • Fitting a steering wheel lock can reduce opportunities for theft, as they are a visual deterrent and can slow an offender down.

“As always, stay vigilant and if you notice anything unusual or suspicious, please report it to the police,” GMP said in a statement.

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Featured Image – Seth Whales (via Wikimedia Commons)