Scores of motorists in Mexborough are giving opportunist thieves an easy ride by leaving their vehicles unlocked overnight.
A police operation found 60 motors had been left unsecure in just one part of the town, which has seen a rise in vehicle crime.
Officers are now urging residents to make sure they keep their vehicles safe, especially in the run up to Christmas when thieves are always on the look out to snatch festive gifts.
Pc Phil Black, who led the operation, said: “If we can go looking around cars in the early hours of the morning, then so can thieves.
“I would urge residents to make sure their car doors are always locked and never leave valuables on display.”
Officers carried out patrols in the Adwick Road area between midnight and 4am over three nights last week.
Pc Black told residents about the operation at a Partners And Communities Together meeting in Mexborough Resource Centre on Thursday.
He said: “In some cases if someone is very close by with a similar electronic locking device to yours it can block the signal, so I would always say to people who use those to physically check the door is locked afterwards.
“We left notices on some vehicles and on others we knocked on doors and got people up to tell them.”
Long-time Doncaster Federation of Tenants and Residents member Margaret Cook, 76, of Morton Road, Mexborough, said: “My granddaughter was one of the people who left their cars unlocked. She wasn’t best pleased at being woken up but thanked the police so much because anyone could have broken in.
“I think it’s an excellent idea. It doesn’t surprise me that 60 people did not lock their doors, because when you are busy putting shopping away or whatever its easy to forget.
“People just need to be more aware.”
The police operation and appeal comes after a recent rise in vehicle crime which has seen cars stolen and gifts taken from inside. Resident Frank Knapton MBE, 77, of Morton Road, Mexborough, said: “I think police operations such as this are a good idea, overall I think people will welcome it.
“Of course people should also consider that insurance companies might not pay out if they have been found to leave their doors unlocked.”
As part of a wider appeal by South Yorkshire Police, Inspector Ian Roberts said: “We don’t want people to leave items on view. But they shouldn’t presume that belongings in glove compartments or under seats are safe either.
“Drivers need to follow basic safety advice, such as parking in well-lit areas and checking their vehicle is locked.
“Basically they need to look at their vehicle through the eyes of a thief.”
For more advice on how to reduce your chances of becoming a target for vehicle crime, visit the crime prevention section on the South Yorkshire Police website at http://www.southyorks.police.uk/content/vehicle-crime.