Lock it or pay

WESTERN Victorian vehicle owners face being fined $144 if they fail to secure their cars.

Police are urging people in western Victoria to be more vigilant and avoid becoming the victim of opportunistic thefts from motor vehicles. 

Operation Snipa was launched last month in the Wimmera, Grampians and Southern Mallee areas. 

As part of the operation, police will carry out patrols to identify any unlocked cars and issue letters to alert owners that their vehicle is unsecured. 

Yesterday Mortlake police reported that petrol had been stolen from 17 vehicles parked around the town in the past couple of weeks and a wallet taken from a car.

Western region crime prevention officer Senior Constable Eddy MacDonald said many thefts were opportunistic and residents could take simple steps to deter thieves. 

“In one recent patrol in Horsham, 31 vehicles were served with ‘Remove It, Lock It or Lose It’ notices in the central business area,” he said.

“Just last week I drove around a couple of towns and counted 16 vehicles with the windows down, including three that had keys in the ignition. 

“This is both staggering and frustrating. It takes just a couple of seconds to ensure that your vehicle is locked and valuables are hidden from sight.” 

The crime prevention officer warned that car owners may also be issued with a $144 fine for leaving a vehicle unsecured. 

“Take away the opportunity. Unlocked cars and valuables left unsecured attract thieves to your neighbourhood. Everyone has the responsibility to make our community safe — there are no excuses,” he said. 

Motorists are urged to: 

- remove all valuables, such as mobiles, laptops, wallets, iPods and loose change when leaving a car, or store valuables out of sight, such as in the boot; 

- lock doors and close windows regardless of how long you are leaving your car; 

- park off-street, possibly in a garage, or alternatively park in well-lit or secure area; and

- Remove GPS units and wipe suction marks off the windscreen so thieves don’t think a unit is hidden out of sight.

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