TRAVELLING criminals who target high value cars by breaking into people’s homes to steal the keys are being warned as part of a crackdown in East Lancashire.
It comes after a spate of offences in rural areas of Pendle and other parts of the area.
The vehicles stolen include a Golf GTI worth £24,000 from Trawden and a Ford Focus worth £30,000 from Barrowford.
Other high value vehicles have been stolen from Bacup and Slaidburn and thieves also tried to steal a Land Rover Defender worth £20,000 from Laneshaw Bridge.
Often offenders will break into houses to steal car keys left on show or casually discarded on kitchen worktops. They have also been known to use a hook or cane to retrieve them through an unlocked window, letterbox or cat-flap.
Police believe offenders are travelling from outside the county to carry out the thefts and those who cross the county border to commit crime are being warned this will not be tolerated. Additional police resources are now patrolling rural areas and these include armed response vehicles, dog patrols and road policing officers.
Officers have also offered advice to help people avoid becoming victims of this type of crime.
Chief Insp. Paul Withers said: “There is a great deal people can do to significantly reduce the likelihood of being a victim of ‘car-key’ burglary. Car owners need to be on their guard and remember offenders often manage to quickly steal keys left on show or left in prominent positions within their homes – people can prevent this by ensuring car keys are kept securely out of the way.
“We know there are criminals who live outside East Lancashire, and indeed the county, that are prepared to travel to steal vehicles. My message to them is simple – if you come to East Lancashire to commit crime you will be relentlessly pursued and will be put before the courts. You are not welcome in Lancashire.”
To help avoid becoming a victim of this type of crime you should:
l Fit burglar alarms that people can see and good outside lighting.
l Fit key operated locks to all windows.
l When you go out, always lock the door and close the windows – even if you are only going out for a short time.
l Fit deadlocks to the doors and don’t leave keys where they can be seen or reached through the letterbox – keep them out of sight!
l Think about installing security lights to light up the front porch and garden or driveway.