UNLOCKED vehicles are providing a handy payday for Wodonga thieves who have been sneaking in and out of cars unnoticed.
It’s the small things like a bit of loose change or a packet of cigarettes that may have disappeared and left you wondering what you did with them, or maybe you didn’t realise at all.
In a single night, one thief made $200 just by taking coins, and although he has since been caught by police, there are more out there.
In the past four months there have been 95 reported thefts from motor vehicles and 31 vehicles stolen in Wodonga alone.
Police say the number of thefts could actually be much higher than 95, but people haven’t noticed.
Constable Ben Ryan is part of a taskforce set up to deal with the problem and said some of the offenders admitted to targeting many more cars than what they were caught for.
“What they do is they enter an unlocked car, go through the entire thing taking things of value or things people don’t notice would be taken then they put everything back where they found it and shut the doors,” he said.
“A lot of the time victims are completely unaware that it has happened.”
Police picked up on the trend in May, and although the thieves went quiet for a few weeks, it is starting to pick up again.
Thieves are also targeting items left in plain sight including laptops, mobile phones and iPods.
To help stop the wave of thefts police are sending out the message that people need to lock their cars.
“The number of vehicles being left unlocked is making it hard for us to keep up,” Constable Ryan said.
“We need the public to assist us by locking their cars and removing valuables.”