TRAVELLING criminals, who target high value cars by breaking into people’s homes to steal the keys, are being warned as part of a crackdown in East Lancashire.
It comes after a spate of offences in rural areas of Rossendale, Pendle, Burnley and also the Ribble Valley, where a number of high value vehicles have been stolen.
A Mitsubishi Evo, worth around £25,000, has recently been stolen from Burnley Road in Bacup and thieves also attempted to steal a Land Rover Defender, worth around £20,000, from Laneshawbridge near Colne.
Other vehicles stolen include a Golf GTI, worth £24,000 from Trawden, a bright green Ford Focus, worth £30,000, from Barrowford, Nelson and a Range Rover Sport, worth £56,000, from Slaidburn, near Clitheroe.
Often offenders will break into houses to steal car keys that have been left on show or casually discarded on kitchen worktops. They have also been known to use a hook or cane to retrieve them through an unlocked window, letterbox or cat-flap.
Police believe offenders are travelling from outside the county to carry out the thefts and those who cross the county border to commit crime are being warned this will not be tolerated. Additional police resources are now patrolling these rural areas and these include armed response vehicles, dog patrols and road policing officers.
Officers have also offered advice to help people avoid becoming victims of this type of crime.
Chief Insp. Paul Withers said: “There is a great deal that people can do to significantly reduce the likelihood of being a victim of ‘car-key’ burglary. Car owners need to be on their guard and remember that offenders often manage to quickly steal keys left on show or left in prominent positions within their homes - people can prevent this by ensuring car keys are kept securely out of the way.
“We know that there are criminals who live outside East Lancashire, and indeed the county, that are prepared to travel to steal vehicles. My message to them is simple - if you come to East Lancashire to commit crime you will be relentlessly pursued and will be put before the courts. You are not welcome in Lancashire.”