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In recent years car manufacturers have made vehicle security a priority with the introduction of sophisticated security and alarm systems to prevent thieves from stealing cars. As a result criminals have resorted to more elaborate ways of stealing vehicles.   In the past few weeks there has been an increase in the number of car key burglaries across Merseyside. When committing these offences the offender(s) will enter the occupants house with a view to stealing their car/van keys, the vehicle will then be taken from outside. Sometimes these crimes can take place when the occupants are at home.   It is very important that vehicle owners are aware of this and take extra precautions to limit the chances of becoming a victim of car key burglary.

The people who want these vehicles are professionals and the vehicles can; be stolen to order, utilised for joy-riding, used to transport offenders or even be used in other crimes. Offenders have been known to cruise locations looking for the vehicles to target and follow them back to their overnight address.   Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Richardson, said: ”Many of these offences are preventable with the offenders gaining entry to the house via an insecure door or window. Other offences have occurred where car keys have been left near to the front door and implements have been used to remove the keys via the letter-box.   “In response to the increase in car key burglaries an operation has been put in place to put offenders on the back foot. Extra patrols, consisting of uniformed and plain clothes officers, are being deployed to areas that have seen an increase in this type of crime at key times.

“The Force is also working with officers from Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire to tackle criminals on the move across the counties borders. Police from the four neighbouring forces work together and share intelligence to target, disrupt and arrest offenders travelling for the purpose of committing crimes. During these operations, all the main arterial routes are patrolled with police from all forces using the Automatic Number Plate Recognition System (ANPR).”   He continued: “I would like to take this opportunity to remind residents to make sure their properties are secure both during the evening and overnight even when they are at home.

“We all need to be vigilant. If you see anyone acting suspiciously report it to the police. These offenders will need to walk up driveways to look through doors and windows to see if there are keys in sight of a door or window. If you notice any such behaviour contact the police.   “Householders witnessing anyone acting suspiciously are advised to call Merseyside Police on 101 or in an emergency 999.”   To minimise the risk of car key burglary Merseyside Police have now issued the following advice:   If you have a garage, please park your car in it. Many people with garages use them for storage. This will keep your cars out of the sight of preying eyes

On entering the house lock the front door behind you   Never leave your car keys near a door or window. Criminals can hook keys through open windows and letter-boxes. It is therefore vital that householders do hide the keys from view. People have keys stolen without anyone even entering the premises   Do not leave car keys in an obvious place; make it as hard as possible for the thief   Do not leave house keys in the back of your door lock   Consider installing security lights to the front and rear of your property   If you are threatened with violence for your car keys is to hand them over do not put yourself at risk   Special letter-box cowlings are also available – they allow your papers and post to be delivered, but stops the ‘hook & canes’ fishing

Householders also need to make sure that they take other simple crime prevention measures to ensure that they don’t become victims of   sneak-in thieves or burglary, such as remembering not to leave doors and windows unlocked   The Force is also offering the following crime prevention advice to keep homes safe this winter:   During the dark nights, use a light timing device to switch the lights on (ensuring your blinds/curtains are drawn)   Always lock your windows and doors. If you haven’t got windows locks, you are advised to get window locks fitted. If you have window locks –   use them   Always check your front and back door are secure even if you are in   Secure your shed and garage properly. Don’t leave tools lying around   Security mark all your home and garden equipment with full postcode using a UV marker pen or permanent marker. This can help make it easier  for victims to be reunited with your property if you are the victim of a burglary and the items are recovered

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