Motorists warned after 649 thefts from cars over 11 months in Lincoln
A rise in thefts from cars has prompted a no-nonsense warning about leaving valuables in your vehicle.
In just half an hour, a routine patrol of two streets off Lincoln's Monks Road found 10 cars which would tempt opportunistic thieves.
A purse on the back seat, sat nav holders on windscreens and a holdall on a seat would all make criminals stop and think.
Lincoln has seen 649 thefts from vehicles between April 1, 2012 and March 3 this year – 100 more than the same period in 2011/12.
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The Lincoln North Neighbourhood Policing Area is the current hotspot, which saw the weekly figure of five or six smash-and-grabs rise to 26 in the week ending March 10.
Most of these happen in Abbey ward.
PCSO Matt Trafford said: "We do a lot of proactive work, advising people not to leave valuables on display in their car but then you go out and about in Abbey ward and you often see glass on the road.
"It's so easy. Someone has seen something they want or thinks there's something worth taking, smashes a window, reaches in, takes something and runs off.
"Theft from vehicle attracts a lesser penalty than burglary and they don't have to break into someone's house so it's less risk to them.
"I'm not at all convinced that all of these thefts are reported.
"If I see items left in people's cars I note the registration number. The keeper is then traced via the police national computer.
"Generally, a note or information is put in the post.
"We also do leaflet drops around the ward and posters will shortly be going up in businesses.
"We have all left things displayed in our car before but people are doing it on a regular basis."
Now, traffic wardens have begun to note at-risk cars and pass details to police so they can issue crime prevention advice.
Inspector Pat Coates, who heads neighbourhood policing in the area, said the police's arsenal also includes the use of trap cars. But he stressed that people can do their bit to help prevent themselves falling victim to crime.
"In one case, a laptop was covered by a blanket on the back seat and the car was broken into," said Mr Coates.
"We have had phone chargers worth £3.99 stolen because thieves think there's a phone in the car.
"But there's also the inconvenience of having a window repaired and forking out £75 excess on the insurance.
"Thieves won't break into a car unless they think something is there."
Three people are on bail accused of theft from vehicles and a fourth has recently been convicted.
The first weekend in March saw 10 vehicle break-ins. They were in Greetwell Road, Welbeck Street, Wavell Drive, Carlton Boulevard, Friars Lane, Allenby Close, Wragby Road, Olsen Rise, Greetwell Close and Outer Circle Road.
Three more incidents followed in Cannon Street, where a handbag was stolen, Redbourne Drive and Woodhall Drive.
Shuttleworth House resident Dennis Esberger, 63, said: "There are some 'likely lads' – as the saying goes – around here and if you're daft enough to leave your valuables on show and they get nicked then whose fault is it?"