Don't be an easy target

PUBLISHED: 17:15 10 August 2006 | UPDATED: 11:56 04 May 2010

Warm summer weather brings out visitors, tourists and families to enjoy the summer - but it also brings out opportunist thieves looking for easy pickings from vehicles. Cambridgeshire Police Community Safety Officer, Ellen Muirhead, has put together some

Warm summer weather brings out visitors, tourists and families to enjoy the summer - but it also brings out opportunist thieves looking for easy pickings from vehicles. Cambridgeshire Police Community Safety Officer, Ellen Muirhead, has put together some simple tips to make sure you are not their next target.

SUMMER'S here and life is relaxed. But this is just the time when thieves will take advantage.

Many find vehicles are easy targets but some simple precautions can ensure that you will not become the next victim.

Making a few easy checks before you leave your car can prevent a great deal of expense.

Empty it of all valuables, and anything that may appear to be worth a couple of quid counts as "valuables". Thieves will have no compunction in breaking your window causing £150 of damage to take something for which they will get £5.

You may know the coat on the back seat is your old dog-walking coat and that the pockets are empty but thieves do not.

If they think there is the slightest chance of there being some cash or a mobile in it they will break in to find out.

If you must leave clothes in the car, lock them out of sight in the boot.

Remember to remove the satellite navigation system which is a prime target at the moment. Mobile phones and posh sunglasses will also tempt thieves.

If you have a stereo with a removable front then remember to remove it.

Make sure you have locked the car and activated the alarm and immobiliser.

Consider buying a steering lock. This not only makes it difficult to steal your car but also demonstrates to the thief that you take security seriously and are unlikely to have left anything worthwhile in the car.

Make sure any device you buy is approved by a recognised organisation such as Thatcham or Sold Secure on 01327 264687 at www.soldsecure.com.final

Very importantly, always keep the keys to your car safe.

It is now much more difficult to steal cars as manufacturers have improved locking mechanisms but thieves are getting round this by targeting the keys themselves.

Never leave them in the ignition, lying on a restaurant table or in clothing left unattended, such as at the gym.

There is a rising trend for bags and clothing to be targeted just for car keys.

Consider marking all your valuables, including the stereo and those items you frequently take in the car. Use a unique identifying number, preferably one linked to a recognised database, such as Immobilise or Selectamark.

This can help to trace an item that belongs to you as well as the person who stole it.

Ask your local police station about details of marking schemes and secure databases.

You can also help to prevent thefts by not buying bargain second-hand goods. Remember they may have been stolen from someone else's car.

You can also get "Forget It" cards to leave on your dashboard. These warn a thief that everything has been removed from the car and that there is no point in breaking in.

These cards are available from your local police station. They are bright yellow and thieves will soon learn that it is not worth crossing the road to look in a car with a yellow card in the dash because it will be empty.

For information on the various security products, you can phone the Vehicle Security National Helpline on 0870 550 2006.

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