POLICE are warning drivers not to leave their keys in the ignition following a spate of vehicle thefts across St Helens this summer.
Opportunist thieves are targeting small goods vans like Ford Transits, Citroen Berlingos and Fiat Ducatos, in which the owners have either left the keys in the car or close enough to be snatched.
Since the beginning of May, 24 vans have been stolen across the borough - many of which had been left insecure in some way.
In the latest van theft, an employee from a property maintenance company had their white Ford Transit stolen from outside a house in Waring Avenue, Parr, while they were unloading a wheelbarrow from a trailer that was attached to the van.
The van, which had been left unlocked and with the keys in the ignition, was driven off at about 1pm on August 16 and was later seen in Golborne Road, Newton-le-Willows, however it remains missing.
It is described as a white Ford Transit 350 with a long wheel base and the registration BD06 NUA.
Other incidents since May 1 have occurred in Haydock, Parr, Eccleston Park, Thatto Heath and Rainhill.
DI Jerry Harris, of St Helens CID, said: “We are determined to crack down on this and a great deal of work is being done to catch the culprits.
“We are also trying to raise awareness among vehicle owners about how to prevent this happening in the first place.
“Too many people are making life too easy for thieves by leaving their cars and vans unlocked or, worse still, their keys in the ignition. This is giving criminals the opportunity to either help themselves to valuables left on display or actually drive the vehicle away.
“I would appeal to anyone tempted to leave their car and van insecure even just for a few seconds to think again.”