ARARAT - Police have stepped up patrols of car parks and streets in a bid to identify any unlocked cars, issuing letters to registered car owners alerting them to the fact their vehicle is unsecured.
Car owners also face the prospect of a fine of $144 for an unsecured car.
Officers have witnessed a significant increase in vehicle thefts in recent months, and are urging drivers to lock their vehicles to prevent easy access for thieves.
Police believe that many of the thefts are opportunistic, and that residents can take some simple measures to help deter thieves.
The thieves often target older model cars with less sophisticated security features, looking particularly for unlocked cars, or those with valuables left inside.
Police are urging residents to do their bit by taking preventative measures to deter thieves including:
Always lock your vehicle when you leave it and make sure the windows are completely closed
Park off-street, possibly in a garage, or if you have to park on the street, park in well lit areas
Remove valuables from sight - leave them in your boot, or take them with you
If you must leave valuables in your car, do not hide them upon arrival as thieves could be monitoring the area. Remove them from sight prior to parking
If you have a GPS unit, wipe the windscreen where the unit sticks to the glass to ensure thieves don't think anything is hidden out of sight
Consider having your vehicle fitted with one-way screws. These are available at most police stations
Report any suspicious activity to police immediately
Make note of car registration numbers, colour and make or vehicles, physical description of suspects and direction of travel
Police urge anyone who may have information about thefts to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au