REGION - Police are urging people across the region to be more vigilant to avoid becoming the victim of opportunistic thefts from motor vehicles.
Operation Snipa has been launched in the Wimmera, Grampians and Southern Mallee areas.
As part of the operation, police will conduct patrols to identify any unlocked cars and issue letters to alert registered car owners to the fact their vehicle is unsecured.
Western Region Crime Prevention Officer, Leading Senior Constable, Eddy MacDonald said many thefts were opportunistic and local residents could take simple steps to deter thieves.
"Just last week, I drove around a couple of towns and counted 16 vehicles with the windows down, including three that had keys in the ignition," he said.
"This outcome is both staggering and frustrating. It takes just a couple of seconds to ensure that your vehicle is locked and valuables are hidden from sight.
"There are two vital elements for a crime to occur- the offender and the opportunity. Take away the opportunity. Unlocked cars and valuables left unsecured attract thieves to your neighbourhood. Everyone has the responsibility to make our community safe - there are no excuses."
Car owners may also face a fine of $144 for an unsecured car.
Preventative measures motorists can take:
Remove all valuables, such as mobiles, laptops, wallets, iPod and loose change, when you leave your car
If you must leave valuables in your car, store them out of sight, such as in the boot. Do not hide them on arrival at your destination where thieves may be monitoring the area
Lock doors and close windows regardless of how long you are leaving your car
Park your car off-street if possible, possibly in a garage, or alternatively park in well-lit or secure areas
Remove GPS units and wipe suction marks off the windscreen so thieves don't think one is hidden out of sight
Report any suspicious activity to police.
Anyone who may have information about motor vehicle theft should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au