Police across Melbourne's north are targeting driver complacency in a bid to crack down on a surge in thefts from cars.
With vehicle crime on the rise across the state, police division ND4 - which covers Hume, Moreland and Moonee Valley - has been one of the hardest hit by thieves. Since July, more than 2500 incidents were reported across the division, 32 per cent higher than the same time last year.
In the year to September, thefts from motor vehicles in Hume rose 36.9 per cent to 2017 incidents; 37.6 per cent to 2095 in Moreland; and 25.2 per cent to 1188 in Moonee Valley. But division Superintendent Mick Hermans said police were making inroads with tasks such as Operation Aware.
"We've been doing a lot of work on theft from motor vehicles and theft of motor vehicles," he said. 'It's been widely publicised that places like Moreland and Hume have had high increases.
"We're making progress on pegging back the numbers but what we're finding is the complacency of some owners is making our jobs more difficult and the work of criminals easier, either (by leaving) valuables on display or cars unlocked." Since August, crews of about 20 police officers have been allocated to weekly dedicated shifts, scouring high-risk areas.
It's an opportunity that criminals find too good to pass up on
According to Supt Hermans, about three in every 100 cars were obvious targets, with doors unlocked or items left in full view. Police have sent letters to owners warning them to bolster the security of their cars and ensure they remove anything from sight that could seem attractive to opportunist offenders, from mobile phones and electronic devices to sunglasses and spare change.
"It's an opportunity that criminals find too good to pass up on" Supt Hermans said. "If the community had a stronger focus on securing their valuables, we could utilise those resources elsewhere.
"We're actually making progress but the progress could be stronger and quicker if people engaged in some simple steps regarding personal security."
- Lock car doors and close windows
- Never leave valuables in plain sight
- Don't park and transfer valuables to the boot
- Bags or jackets in the car can create the perception there are valuables hidden
- Don't leave tools or tool boxes in sight