Vehicle crime almost doubled in Hartlepool within the space of just a year.
Between last October and September of this year, there were 1,094 vehicle crimes compared to 583 incidents for the same period 12 months earlier – an increase of more than 87%.
Of the 1,094 offences reported this year, they comprise of 680 thefts from vehicles, 177 stolen vehicles and 237 of interfering with vehicles.
Town MP Mike Hill said: “It has not gone unnoticed that there is a distinct correlation between austerity and rising crime numbers.
“I have spoken out on several occasions about the effect of police cuts and the need for more bobbies on the beat, and this underlines that position.”
A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “Vehicle crime is taken very seriously by Cleveland Police and we would reiterate the usual crime reduction advice – try to park in secure locations – in a garage or behind a locked gate if possible.
Christmas is also drawing closer, and criminals will take full advantage of seasonal chaosLorna Hilton, Safer Hartlepool Partnership
“If not, in a lit area. Always lock your car and never leave the engine running if your vehicle is unattended for example while defrosting windscreens.
“Remember to remove all valuables from the vehicle, including from within the glove box and boot as once a thief has gained access they can easily take items stored there.”
Since March, there have been 18 suspected incidents across Cleveland of thieves using techniques and technology to bypass modern anti-theft measures, with five in Hartlepool.
Lorna Hilton, the Safer Hartlepool Partnership’s victim services officer, said: “Most vehicle crime is preventable, and it is vital that Hartlepool residents do not give criminals an easy ride by leaving items of value in cars.
“It only takes seconds for a thief to get into a car and steal something irreplaceable, so always remember to remove documents, electronics, spare keys, gifts or anything worth something to you.
“Christmas is also drawing closer, and criminals will take full advantage of seasonal chaos. Although you may think they are well hidden, don’t leave gifts in your glove compartment or boot.
“If you wouldn’t leave the item sat on your drive out in the open, don’t leave it in your car.”
Vehicle crime can be reported to police on 101 or Crimestopers on 0800 555111.
You can also call Hartlepool Borough Council’s Crime Prevention Team for advice on (01429) 523100.