POLICE are reminding owners to make sure their vehicles are secure when unattended. Following a string of thefts from cars and vans, police are advising that vehicles are locked, parked in a safe area, and that no valuables are left on display.

In particular, vans have been targeted and construction or joinery tools stolen.

Detective Inspector Lee Gosling, of Peterlee CID, said: “Leaving vehicles unlocked, even if just for a few minutes, or with items visible inside makes them a prime target for thieves. Leaving tools in vans overnight, although convenient, is not advisable.

“Perpetrators are often opportunistic, and our advice is not to make things easy for them. If you see somebody trying car doors or otherwise acting suspiciously, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 101.” To ensure the safety of your vehicle, follow these helpful tips:

Never leave keys in the ignition or in your car unattended, even for a short time.

Park with care, if possible in a busy, well-lit area.

If you have a garage, use it. If you park on a driveway, close and lock any gates.

Close windows, sunroof, lock doors and activate security alarms when leaving the vehicle.

Take valuables (cash, credit cards, mobile phones, satellite navigation systems) with you when you leave your car. Remove any suction cup marks from your windows.

If you have no other choice, make sure valuables are locked in the boot, taking care nobody is watching you put them there.

Keep your driving and vehicle documents safe and not in the car.

Postcode your valuables with a UV pen.

Make sure your keys are secure when at home and at work.

For more details and advice on how to keep your property safe, ring 101 and ask to speak to your Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator or Neighbourhood Policing Team.