Dorset Police is warning car owners to leave their keys in a secure place in their home, out of sight of potential thieves.
The Force has experienced a number of incidents of dwelling burglary in recent months, which have resulted in the theft of car keys and consequently vehicles. This series began in July, with the most recent incident occurring in late September.
Although the offences have been carried out across Dorset, the most targeted areas have been North and East Bournemouth. Most, though not all, of these offences have taken place over night.
Detective Inspector (DI) Neil Wright of the Priority Crime Team said: “While the number of these incidents is low, they serve as a reminder of the importance of securing our homes.
“In several of these burglaries, it is clear that homes are targeted with the aim of stealing a vehicle. The car keys are the only item taken, despite evidence of rooms being searched containing other valuable items, and the cars predominantly being high performance, desirable models such as Audis, BMWs and VW Golfs.
“That said, thieves are opportunistic and have no regard for other people’s privacy or property. The incidents we have seen show reckless and untidy searches of all rooms in the house and, in some cases, jewellery, money, credit cards and electrical items have been stolen along with the cars.”
In response to the crimes the Force is currently investigating, Dorset Police Priority Crime Team is issuing advice in a bid to prevent any more people becoming victims of the crime.
DI Wright added: “Burglars and thieves may try to target any home, but there are some simple yet effective steps you can take to avoid being a victim of burglary and consequential vehicle theft.
“Leave your keys in a place where they are not visible or easily accessible: never leave them in a place which can be accessed externally via the letterbox or an insecure window or door.
“If you have a safe to keep valuable items in, including your car keys, make sure it is not only hidden, but bolted down solidly.
“If you are away from home with a vehicle left at the property, ask a trusted friend or family member to keep an eye on your address and report any suspicious behaviour to the police.
“In terms of your home security, our advice is the same as for all dwelling burglary. Always close and lock your windows and doors and fit and use a burglar alarm. CCTV cameras also offer valuable protection.
“You can find out more burglary prevention advice on the Dorset Police website.”
The team is aware of some safety concerns around keeping keys far from doors, for example in case of a fire. DI Wright advised: “We understand people are keen to prepare everyone in the house for events where they may need to exit the property quickly.
“If you do have a door which requires a key to open from the inside, do not leave the keys in the door. Thieves may be able to reach through letterboxes and compromise your home security.
“Decide on a safe place for your keys and always use it, so you can easily find them in an emergency. Make sure everyone in your home knows where these keys are kept.”