With Christmas fast approaching, Merseyside Police is warning drivers to be vigilant against thieves seeking to ruin the season by stealing items from their cars.

Theft of items including presents from cars is a particularly prevalent during the winter months. During November and December last year 1,060 reports of items having been stolen from vehicles were received by the force.

The majority of these thefts were from insecure vehicles, with the offenders simply taking anything that was readily to hand.

Basic procedures such as locking your car and, if you are unable to take them with you,  leaving items including presents in the boot or under the front seat rather than on the seats will reduce the risk of being targeted by opportunistic criminals.

Despite previous police warnings, items such as mobile phones, wallets, handbags, laptops, cameras, I-pods and even loose change are regularly reported stolen from cars.

To help reduce this type of crime the force has organised for a number of road shows to take place across the area. Officers and PCSOs will be at the road shows to offer crime prevention and security advice to residents about keeping their cars and belongings safe. Local businesses are also being visited by officers providing advice and support.

The first road shows will be taking place on Tuesday, 25 November between 8.30am and 12pm at Tesco store on Mather Avenue, Allerton and between 1pm and 5pm at Asda on Smithdown Road in Wavertree.

Officers will be bringing along a crime prevention car to each of the road shows to help provide crime prevention and security advice. Items such as windscreen scraper and car air-fresheners containing crime prevention advice will also be handed out at the events.

We will be encouraging members of the public to register their valuables with www.immobilise.comand mark them with ultraviolet pens with us at these road shows.  Police Officers and staff are able to search this database for property on a daily basis to more easily secure convictions for theft and return items to their owners swiftly.
Posters and crime prevention leaflets are also being distributed to local businesses.For details of roadshows in your own area please visit www.merseysidepolice.uk/vehicle-crime

Chief Inspector Dawn McNally, said: “This time of year people are understandably very busy rushing around and often people can forget to lock their vehicles when they are out and about.

“The main thing for people is to be aware that thieves see the Christmas period as an ideal opportunity to strike and know people are often distracted and may easily fall victim to opportunistic thefts as they have forgotten to lock their vehicle or have left items on display.

“This type of crime is opportunistic and has such an impact on the victim, particularly when expensive or cherished items are stolen.

“In recent years car manufacturers have made vehicle security an increasing priority with the introduction of sophisticated security and alarm systems to prevent thieves from gaining access to them. Unfortunately these systems are rendered worthless if they are not used. It only takes a few seconds to remove items on display in your vehicle and lock it. Those seconds could make a big difference.

“Most of these reported thefts are often from insecure vehicles, with the offenders simply taking anything that is readily to hand even loose change. Hopefully by double checking your car is locked and setting the alarm, even if you are away from your vehicle for just a couple of minutes, you will be much less likely to become being a victim of car crime and potentially having your Christmas ruined.

“Motorists are also reminded that items taken from insecure vehicles may not be covered by their insurance.

“To help reduce this type of crime the force has organised for a number of crime preventions road shows to take place across the area. More details of when and where these will be taking place can be found on the Merseyside Police website.”

Motorists are being offered the following advice:

Most vehicle crime is preventable. It can take as little as 10 seconds for a thief to steal something from your car. If at all possible, leave nothing on view

Never leave valuable items in your car, including sunglasses, the removable radio cover and your Sat Nav. Do you really need all those things you keep in the glove box?

Wipe away the Sat Nav mark on your windscreen

Never leave your car keys where they can be seen from the front door

Always close the windows and sunroof; lock the doors and activate any security devices when leaving your car unattended

Park with care, particularly at night or if you are leaving the vehicle for a long time. If possible, park in a busy, well-lit area

Never leave cash, credit cards, chequebook, mobile phones, vehicle documents or other valuables in the car

Never leave your keys in the car, even for a second – treat them as you would your cash and credit cards

Try to avoid parking your vehicle in quiet side roads where offenders are able to act unobserved and ensure all doors and windows are secured when leaving the vehicle.

Never leave goods, clothing or even empty carrier bags or containers in the vehicle

Take all your belongings with you, or if you can’t, lock them in the boot. Mobile phones, Sat Navs and credit cards are often stolen from glove boxes

Car owners should also be mindful of leaving their vehicle unattended, with the engine running, when defrosting their windscreens in the mornings during a cold snap. Not only is it an offence to leave their car unattended with the engine running on a road, it also voids insurance should it be stolen.

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