POLICE in South Gloucestershire are warning drivers after almost two-thirds of recent thefts from cars and vans in the region were from vehicles which had been left insecure.

Community Safety Inspector Gerry Treacy said: "We were concerned by a recent increase in reported thefts from cars and vans in the first two weeks of 2014. On looking into the cases we found that 63 per cent were from vehicles which had been left unlocked."

He said thieves were stealing phones, satnavs, tablet devices and laptop computers from vehicles.

“We have also had reports of cars being entered to take small change or a bag containing sports kit, while thieves target vans to steal power tools or copper pipe,” he added.

Police officers and PCSOs have been carrying out targeted patrols to tackle the problem, including checking parked cars as part of the vulnerable vehicle scheme, writing to the registered keeper with crime prevention advice if the vehicle is insecure or has property left on view.

Yesterday the teenage volunteer police cadets gave up their time to help, patrolling Mangotsfield, checking about 150 vehicles and giving out crime prevention advice.

Insp Treacy said: "South Gloucestershire does have low crime levels, but we should all still be taking sensible steps to protect our property. Please take a few seconds to lock your vehicle and make sure you haven't left anything on view. Remember your insurer may not pay out if your car or van wasn't secure. If you see anyone trying car door handles or acting suspiciously around cars or vans, call 999 straight away."