Car owners urged to keep vehicles locked and free of festive valuables to avoid falling foul of Grinches
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Staffordshire Police are reminding car owners to stop their festive season from being soured through unwanted attention from thieves by keeping their vehicles locked when not in use and not leaving valuable items inside.
Across the county, a number of vehicles are not being secured overnight - leading to drivers finding in the morning that they are facing the monetary and psychological costs of replacing valuable items, Christmas gifts for loved ones or friends and repairing any damage to their vehicles.
Sergeant Gary Harborow of the Tamworth Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “The message is a clear one – lock your cars, and don’t leave your valuables inside.”
He was speaking after a Luis Vuitton purse worth up to £450 was taken from a Jaguar Estate car parked on a driveway on Zennor in Amington, Tamworth overnight between Tuesday (8 December) and Wednesday (9 December).
The car owner had left the purse under the front passenger seat and forgot to lock their car before going into their property. It was unlocked overnight.
Sgt Harborow added: “We need to make more people aware of this issue again as it continues to be a problem.
“People are roaming the streets in the early hours of the morning who try every car door and steal whatever they can from the insecure vehicles they locate.
“Some estimations have uncovered maybe a third of vehicles are left unlocked by their owners, and this needs to stop.
“Our officers will continue to be pro-active on this issue and chase down anybody in our Neighbourhood Police Team areas who pose a problem.
“Protecting the communities we serve is of paramount importance and we always strive to catch any crooks operating on our streets.”
Chief Inspector Mark Barlow from the force’s Stoke North Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “At this unprecedented time we’re asking people to be extra vigilant and follow the appropriate advice when securing their cars, ensuring those who try their luck aren’t successful in taking your property.”
Here’s a list of steps you can take to ensure you don’t become targeted by thieves during this lockdown:
- Always lock your car – whether you’ve popped out for essentials or filling up on fuel it’s vital you keep your doors locked at all times.
- Close windows to prevent “fishing” – it might be hot outside but you don’t need to keep your windows open when you’re not in the car. Close them, so there’s no gap for a thief to exploit.
- Secure your number plates – use tamper resistant screws to make it harder for thieves to steal them.
- Secure anything that’s on the outside of your vehicle – Got a roof-rack or holiday top box? Make sure they’re locked properly if you’ve got no choice but to leave them with your vehicle overnight.
- Take it with you or hide it – mobile phones, coins, sunglasses, handbags or medication are all irresistible to an opportunist thief. They shouldn’t be left in an unattended vehicle.
- Hide electrical items and leave no clues – Make sure you take down sat nav mounts and remove suction cup marks as they’re tell-tale signs that a gadget is stored inside.
- Park in well-lit and busy areas – If you don’t have a drive then make sure your car is left in a well-lit area, preferably one with security cameras nearby.
- Protect your tools – If you must leave your tools in your van overnight then make sure they’re marked well, this makes them less appealing to thieves looking to sell them on. Keep a photo inventory of all that you have as well.
There are also useful guides to keeping your vehicle secure on the Staffordshire Police website, such as ‘Is your vehicle attracting thieves?’ available at https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/theft-of-a-vehicle/vehicle-attracting-thieves/ and ‘How to keep your vehicle safe and sound’ available at https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/theft-from-a-vehicle/vehicle-safe-and-sound/
If you are a victim of theft from your vehicle, call 101 to report the incident. In an emergency, always dial 999.