It’s car break-in season in Northamptonshire - and county police bosses have issued safety advice to motorists to stop them being a target for thieves.
Northamptonshire Police is sharing crime prevention advice as it traditionally receives increased reports of thefts from vehicles at this time of year, with a second rise seen in October.
In non-commercial vehicle crime figures from 2017, cars made up 98 per cent of vehicles targeted by thieves. In almost one in three thefts from cars, entry was gained by smashing a window. One in 10 thefts happened through either an open window or unlocked door.
The most frequently stolen items included loose change, bags, purses and wallets, bank cards and mobile phones.
Laura Mitchell, Crime Prevention Officer at Northamptonshire Police, says: “That loose change was the item most commonly stolen from inside vehicles shows just how little it can take for an opportunistic criminal to be tempted into action.
“We appreciate the distress vehicle crime can cause, as well as the expense and inconvenience of repairs, but there’s plenty you can do to reduce the risk.
“Remove temptation by taking valuables with you and never leaving anything on show when you park up. Close all windows and always check your vehicle is locked and secure before you leave it.”
Number plates were targeted in 17 per cent of reported thefts from motor vehicles, and drivers are encouraged to replace standard fixings with tamper-proof screws to protect them.
Laura says: “Anti-theft screw kits are available very reasonably from car accessory retailers. They are very simple to fit but can’t be removed without specialist tools, making it much less likely a would-be thief would bother trying to steal your number plates.”
Remove temptation with this vehicle crime prevention advice
Before you get out of your vehicle, check nothing’s left out on seats, the dash, console, door pockets or in footwells. Take all valuables with you. If you can’t remove items, lock them out of sight in the boot or a vehicle safe. Be aware of your surroundings and whether anyone could be watching while you do this
Close all windows and remove sat navs or phone holders. Wipe away suction marks as these may tempt thieves to break in to see if the device is still in the car. Put phone charging leads away for the same reason
Always lock your vehicle. If it has remote locking, always physically check the doors have locked before you leave it. Criminals nearby can use a jamming device to block the remote signal, leaving the car unlocked so they can get in once you have left
Where you park matters. If you park in daylight and will be leaving your car until evening or overnight, consider how the area may look in the dark – will it be lit, will it be busy or secluded? Out and about, try to use car parks with Park Mark status - www.parkmark.co.uk