MORE than £300,000 worth of machinery and tools has been stolen from Chard and Ilminster’s policing patch over the past six years, but only two people have been arrested.

The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the News, which found the Somerset East area had seen 519 items taken from vehicles since the start of 2014.

The east area includes Chard and Ilminster, and then goes over to Yeovil, Somerton and Glastonbury.

The figures run up until July 19 of this year, and while the amount of thefts has seemed to be on the decline over the past 12 months, there had not been an arrest since 2017.

The value of the stolen items was more than double that of Somerset West - Taunton, Bridgwater, Minehead and Burnham.

Here, there were 334 items taken valued at £150,133.

Again, there were only two arrests in more than five and a half years.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “In many cases we will not attend because there is insufficient evidence to progress the investigation - for example no CCTV, no witnesses, the area where it happened was a remote and isolated location, the vehicle was not secured or alarmed, it has been left for a prolonged period unattended, or the victim has declined to continue with the investigation.”

Out of the new figures, Somerset East’s worst year for car thefts was 2016, when 131 items were stolen.

There was a total value of £72,653.95, and there was one arrest that year.

The police spokesman added: “Often items are left on sight in vehicles – an obvious invitation to the opportunist thief.

“Tools are often left in vans which are not alarmed and do not have the benefit of floor-mounted safes, which we recommend.

“We constantly recommend that people review crime prevention measures for their property – whether their home, vehicle or personal belongings - to ensure they keep property safe and deter opportunist burglars.”

The average value of tools stolen in Somerset East vehicles is £604.71.