ARARAT - Police across the region are urging motorists to lock their vehicles with thefts from cars on the increase.
Wimmera and Grampians crime prevention officer Eddy Macdonald said if you have been the victim of a crime it is usual to report the matter to police, something that people are strongly encouraged to do.
"There are many other reasons why incidents are reported to police, including passing on information that concerns criminal activity in the community, reporting on the safety and welfare of people and animals, reporting road related and other matters or perhaps requirements by insurance companies," Leading Senior Constable MacDonald said.
"There is one kind of report that keeps me 'miffed', and that is theft of cash or valuables from a motor vehicle where the driver has left the vehicle unlocked, or left unsecured tools and equipment in utes. Simply put, this is an avoidable report.
"Granted there will be thefts from vehicles where you have done everything reasonably possible to prevent it from happening, yet leaving an unattended vehicle unlocked is the complete opposite. Worse still, I have come across unattended and unlocked cars with keys in the ignition and handbags, wallets, personal identity cards and valuables on display. The thief who steals from unlocked cars is opportunistic, leaving a window down or doors unlocked is a sure sign for them, leaving valuables on display is a temptation, leaving unsecured tools and equipment in the back of a ute provides an easy target."
LSC Macdonald said thieves may be on the lookout for cash, electronic devices or identity cards, roaming built up areas on foot at all hours, parking near your car or doing laps around shopping centres, built up areas, parks or even rural properties.
Thefts from cars can occur anywhere, including the driveway of your home.
"Our most recent local police statistics show there has been a 27 per cent increase in thefts from motor vehicles in our area, in response to this the crime prevention office will be conducting an ongoing operation to convince people to lock their cars and secure loose items in utes," he said.
"Vehicles in the Wimmera, Northern Grampians and Southern Mallee areas that are found to be unlocked or vulnerable will be served with anti theft advice pamphlets and the driver may be issued with fines. Information letters will be provided in residential areas where offences have occurred.
"The bottom line is if you are more than three metres away from your unattended vehicle and the vehicle is unlocked (windows and/or doors), you may be subject to a $144 fine. In addition, any child under 16 years old left on their own in the vehicle deems it to be unattended, under no circumstances should you leave a child in an unattended car."
LSC Macdonald urged motorists to lock their vehicles, don't leave valuables behind, park in well lit areas, secure equipment in trays, rather than leaving the windows down on a hot day use a windscreen sunshade and leave pets at home, engrave valuables with your driver's licence number prefixed with the letter 'V' for Victoria, use a phone number rather than a home address on your keys, use anti theft screws or pop rivets on your number plates.
"Remember, thefts from unlocked cars occur anywhere including your drive way, 44 per cent of the recent thefts have occurred in streets," he said.
"My advice to those who leave their vehicles unlocked is that it is much easier to lock the vehicle and keep your valuables safe than trying to convince police and thieves that you shouldn't have to. To those who make sure their unattended vehicles and valuables are secured, well done.
"There are two vital elements for a crime to occur; the offender and the opportunity - take away the opportunity."
If you see suspicious behaviour, contact your local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
For advice on crime prevention go to www.police.vic.gov.au or contact Wimmera and Grampians crime prevention officer Eddy Macdonald at Ararat Police Station on 5355 1500.