Northamptonshire Police are reminding motorists to make sure they lock their vehicles and not leave any valuable items in them following a spate of thefts in recent weeks.
In November there were more than 400 incidents of thefts from motor vehicles in the county.
In many cases the offenders smashed a window and grabbed an item that had been left on show before making off.
Vans used by contractors parked in hotel car parks overnight have also been targeted.
Most recently items have been stolen from vehicles parked in hotel car parks in the Daventry and Weedon areas, but incidents have also taken place in Northampton and East Northants.
Detective Sergeant Tony Kennedy from Northampton CID, said: “We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of thefts from vehicles in recent weeks and with the busy Christmas shopping period upon us we are reminding people to take as many precautions as possible.
“Make sure your car or van is locked at all times, don’t leave any items on display and call us if you believe someone is acting suspiciously near parked vehicles.
“Many of these crimes are opportunistic; offenders will spot something on display, smash the window and make a grab for it. They can cause a lot of damage and distress in a very short period of time.”
Thieves have also been targeting hotel car parks at night in order to steal valuable tools from contractors.
DS Kennedy added: “Contractors will often stay in hotels while working away from home and in some cases they are not able to take their tools into the hotel with them.
“We are encouraging tradespeople to follow some straight forward crime prevention tips in order to reduce the chances of being targeted.”
Police patrols have been increased across the county in a bid to deter thieves and people are encouraged to call police to report any suspicious activity.
Witnesses, or anyone with any information about thefts from cars, can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Crime prevention tips:
•Keep your vehicle locked and your keys secure
•Park in a well-lit area of the car park in clear view of any CCTV cameras. Alternatively, choose a space overlooking hotel reception or your hotel bedroom
•If possible, reverse park against a wall or fence so rear doors are inaccessible
•Unload as many tools as you can from the van. It might seem like a chore but it’s better than not being able to work!
•Call 999 immediately if you see a crime in progress or any suspicious activity around trade vans
Things to do to make your van and tools secure:
•Upgrade the security on your van and fit an independent alarm. Don’t rely on the factory fitted alarm. Select one accredited by Thatcham (thatcham.org) and always use it
•Fit additional locks on your van doors as some manufacturer’s locks can be picked
•Fit a quality tool chest in your van and secure it with a Sold Secure padlock (soldsecure.com)
•Mark your tools so they can easily be identified as belonging to you – here are some suggestions how:
-Use CREMARK permanent tool marking kit (creproducts.co.uk)
-Engrave your name, phone number together with ‘If sold, call me’
-Spray paint your tools a bright colour – this can make them too hot to handle!
•Keep an up-to-date list of your tools, including photographs and serial numbers, registered on immobilise.com – the world’s largest free register of possessions and their owners. This will help all UK police forces to trace owners if the property is recovered