Staffordshire Police are launching a campaign to raise awareness of the growing problem of burglars breaking into people's homes to take their car keys.
Car key burglary is a crime that has increased in recent years due to improvements in car security. Thieves now tend to try to steal a vehicle's keys rather than forcing the ignition.
And police say they are using "elaborate" ways of getting hold of keys to steal high value vehicles, including removing keys through letter-boxes with ‘hook and cane’ fishing. Offenders are also gaining entry to properties via insecure doors and windows, or breaking in.
Posters and postcards are being distributed to local households to advise owners of high value and highly sought after vehicles to take extra precautions, helping them to limit the chances of becoming a victim of car key burglary.
Drivers are being reminded:
Never leave your car keys near a door or window
Keep your keys in a safe place and don’t leave spare keys around
Invest in a good quality home security system
Install security lights to the front and rear of your property and consider installing CCTV cameras
Lock your house even when you are home
Gate your driveway
Invest in a tracking device for your vehicle and know how to activate it
Park your vehicle in a secure garage overnight.
Chief Superintendent Jon Drake said "Many of the car key burglary offences are preventable with the offenders gaining entry to the house and the car keys via an insecure door or window.
"It is imperative that residents make sure their properties are secure during the day, evening and overnight - even when they are home.
"We are working with officers from neighbouring forces to share intelligence, target, disrupt and arrest offenders travelling for the purpose of committing crimes. The use of automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR) via new fixed site systems and mobile technology ensures that we can have a real impact on preventing crime.
"We urge householders to be vigilant and report anyone acting suspiciously to us via our non emergency number 101, or in an emergency 999."