Police are reminding motorists to lock it or lose it as shoppers flock to town centres for festive shopping.
An increase in vehicles parking in crowded shopping areas means opportunist thieves will be looking to take advantage of cars left unlocked or with property on display.
Police are urging motorists to stay one step ahead of thieves by securing cars and taking valuable items with them.
The advice is part of Operation Soundwave, supported by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird and aimed at keeping opportunist thieves and burglars at bay during the winter months, as well as promoting crime prevention advice.
Thefts from cars is down 18 per cent so far this year – that’s 534 fewer offences compared to the same period last year.
Northumbria Police Superintendent Mick Paterson said: “Clearly at this time of year people are flocking to retail areas during the day and night to do Christmas shopping and enjoy the festive season.
“Unfortunately opportunist thieves will be looking to take advantage. They know people are shopping for presents and that vehicles may have expensive items kept inside. They’ve been known to try car door handles until they find one open, and will be looking for valuable items left lying on display.
“I’d ask people to make sure they lock vehicles and take anything of value such as cash, mobile phones and sat navs with them. It only takes a few minutes and can ultimately save a lot of frustration and cost.”
Vera Baird said: “At this time of year people are very busy catching up with family and friends but I hope they take the time to catch up with their local officers who will be able to help them with advice to keep their property safe.”
Motorists should also try to park in secure car parks, or well lit, busy areas. Never return Christmas presents to the car, try to keep them with you while out shopping.
Operations are ongoing across the force to tackle opportunist thieves in the run-up to Christmas, including shoplifting, theft and burglary, with known thieves being targeted and extra high profile and plain clothes patrols.
For more information and advice visit http://www.northumbria.police.uk/vehiclesecurity. Motorists are urged to sign up to free property register Immobilise at www.immobilise.com