LOCK it or lose it – that is the message from police after seeing a rise in thefts from vehicles left unlocked in Waterlooville.
Overall, crime in the town is down 14.5 per cent on this time last year with only theft from vehicles going up. But 40 per cent of the reported thefts are from cars and vans left insecure by owners.
That’s why the Waterlooville Safer Neighbourhood Team has been carrying out a new tactic to drive the message home to motorists how vulnerable they are.
The News joined the team as they tried to open the doors of cars in one of the most vulnerable areas – roads surrounding Jubilee Park.
Despite a leaflet drop a few weeks ago, 14 cars in Freshfield Gardens, Wallis Road, Rowlands Avenue and Winifred Road were left insecure.
Officers let the owners know immediately – no matter what time of night – by tracking them from their registration number. Many were completely unaware their vehicles were unsafe.
Lawrence Strassel, of Freshfield Gardens, was one of them.
He said: ‘I wouldn’t normally leave it unlocked, it’s a total oversight.
‘I think it’s probably a case that I thought I clicked the lock with my key fob as I brought in the groceries but it didn’t quite work.
‘But I think it’s fantastic that the police let me know.’
Police have found sat navs, audio equipment, car seats and buggies in unlocked vehicles – all of which can be sold quickly and easily online.
Officers have even found some owners left their front doors open, with car keys hanging just inside.
Police say thieves do not have to go out equipped with tools because they know unlocked cars in the area are easy pickings.
PC Terry Burke said: ‘We need the public to help us by making it more difficult for thieves by taking a bit more care in ensuring their car is locked.
‘The use of this tactic is to try and highlight to the public that they do need to be more careful when locking their vehicles to check it is done.
‘Many of the people we speak to didn’t intend to leave their vehicle insecure. However, with remote control locking
Inspector Dave Humphries, from Waterlooville police, said: ‘We never expected to find the level of unlocked cars that we have. It’s making it far to easy for the criminals.
‘This is an ongoing tactic to highlight the message.’