A HUGE rise in thefts from cars has left police urging motorists to ensure vehicles are made secure.

Drivers are being urged to make it harder for thieves by locking vehicles and removing any valuable items before leaving cars unattended.

There were 321 reported thefts from vehicles in Poole between August and October this year, compared with 179 during the same period last year.

In Bournemouth there were a total of 390 thefts from vehicles during the three months, up 20.7 per cent from 323 in the same period in 2011.

Jared Parkin, Poole Neighbourhood Chief Inspector said: “A large number of the thefts from cars in Poole have been as a result of drivers leaving their cars unlocked.

“It is so important that people make sure they lock their cars, otherwise opportunist thieves will simply help themselves to whatever is left in the car.

“Don’t make it easy for thieves. Keep your car locked and don’t leave valuables in your vehicle,” he said.

Cllr Judy Butt, cabinet portfolio holder for public engagement and participation, Borough of Poole and vice-chairman of the Safer Poole Partnership Board said: “The sharp increase compared to last year’s figures is very worrying and our residents will be concerned.

“With most vehicles having an electronic locking mechanism I would urge drivers not to press the locking button a few yards from their vehicle whilst walking away, but to check that it really has locked, as often this is not the case.

“With Christmas just weeks away please don’t have it ruined by leaving your family gifts on display in the car and some opportune thief stealing them.”

Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, said: “The advice is to make sure your car does lock properly before you leave it and make sure you never leave anything on display.”

He said many cars acknowledged they had been locked by flashing their lights and it was sensible never to leave anything on view that looked as if it could be valuable, even if it was not.