A frustrated police officer has slammed complacent motorists after keys were left in the ignition of nearly half the cars stolen across the south-west.
South-west police road safety manager Senior Sergeant Chris Asenjo said 26 motor vehicles had been stolen across the region in the last three months, 12 of which were "totally preventable".
"Those 12 vehicles were all left alone with the keys still in the ignition," he said.
"This is 100 per cent avoidable crime. It's stupidity.
"We know that car thieves are opportunistic and they're going to find the easiest way to find transport to get them from point A to point B. They want to find a car that is easy to pinch and it can't get any easier than a car with the keys left in the ignition."
Senior Sergeant Asenjo said the thefts highlighted the need for people to take basic security precautions.
"The days of leaving your cars unlocked or the keys in the ignition are certainly gone," he said. "It's quite simple really - if you are not in your car then your keys shouldn't be either.
"Investigating motor vehicle theft takes up a lot of police time and resources and it is silly that we are in a day and age where we still have to chase up incidents of complacency."
Senior Sergeant Asenjo said stolen vehicles were often used to commit other offences before being dumped and destroyed.
"What could be your pride and joy or primary method of transport could be left totally destroyed, all because you left the keys in the ignition."
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