Six out of ten cars in Morecambe left unlocked and targeted by thieves

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POLICE are warning motorists to make sure they lock their vehicles after reports of car break-ins show that six out of every 10 cars targeted by thieves in Morecambe were left unlocked.

The town has seen reports of car crime triple over the last month, which can partially be attributed to motorists failing to lock up - therefore making it easier and more tempting for thieves to see if there is anything inside that is worth taking.

Locking doors and windows is just one simple crime prevention measure that can be taken to avoid becoming a victim of car crime, but officers are encouraging residents to go even further to ensure their vehicle - and its contents - do not become prey for thieves.

Insp Jim Edmonds, Morecambe police, said: “It is really disheartenting to know that many of the Morecambe residents or visitors to the town who have recently become victims of car crime could have avoided both the upset and financial cost of being broken into if they had locked their vehicles.

“However, this is not the only thing that can be done to prevent car crime, so we would ask motorists to consider the security of their vehicles and to take some simple steps to make sure they aren’t targeted by thieves.”

· Remove all valuables from your car. The first two places a thief will look are in your glove box or under your car seat – so avoid placing items in these places and ideally remove the items from the car altogether.

· Items that may not appear valuable to you can still make cash for a thief so remove them from sight too. Clothing – particularly jackets - and CDs still have a resale value. Hide them away in the boot.

· Do not keep important documents – especially those relating to the car itself - in your vehicle.

· If your stereo is detachable, take the front with you when you leave the car. If it has a PIN security code ensure it has been activated. Never keep the PIN with the stereo or with the user manual in the car. Make a note of the stereo serial number and keep this in a safe place away from the car.

· Cradles left in situ can give thieves the impression that there may be valuable items like sat navs or Ipods in the car. Put them away in the glove box and wipe away tell-tale sucker marks.

· Do not programme your home address into your sat nav, or store into under ‘home.’ If a thief steals your sat nav they will then know where you live. If your car is in town, they may assume that your home is likely to be empty.

· Number plates are generally stolen in order to be used on vehicles involved in other criminal activity. You can prevent this by having anti-theft number plates fitted that shatter when anyone tampers with them, or fitting self locking screws.

· Never leave your keys in the ignition. You may be in the shop for just a minute but it takes less than 10 seconds for someone to get in your car and drive it away.

· Many newer cars will already be fitted with an immobiliser and/or car alarm – if yours isn’t, consider having one professionally fitted. Car alarms should conform to the BS 6803 standard.

· Steering wheel locks are in-expensive and available from most car accessories stores. Aside from locking the wheel they also act as a very visual deterrent to thieves.

· Wheel nuts are inexpensive to fit and easy to install and can prevent tyre theft.

· Have your car’s registration number or the last 7 digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN) etched onto all glass surfaces, including headlamps. These numbers can be linked to recognised security databases and make the vehicle easier to trace if it is stolen. Also, make a note of the car’s chassis number.

· Park where your car can be easily seen by other people – thieves do not like to operate in front of an audience. Park in well lit areas, tuck your wing mirrors in and put your aerial down. If possible, park on a private drive way or in a locked garage.

Anyone with information about car crime is asked to contact police on 101. In an emergency, or where a crime is in the process of taking place, dial 999.