A VICTIM of crime has joined forces with the police to urge motorists to keep their valuables out of sight following a spate of thefts from parked cars.

Kay Alderson, from Chilton, was horrified when she discovered two portable DVD players had been stolen from her Ford Galaxy in Bishop Auckland on Tuesday (January 7).

The thieves had smashed the back window of the car to access the gadgets, while it was parked in the staff car park at Bishop Auckland Hospital.

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Earlier that day, between 11.15am and noon, a laptop, digital camera and satellite navigation system were taken from a Volkswagen Sharan, which was parked at the hospital.

The camera and laptop were both on show at the time.

In the last week, three people have been arrested in connection to similar thefts in the Bishop Auckland area.

Ms Alderson, who has worked as an admin officer at the hospital for just over six years, said she wanted to warn other motorists of the risks.

“If by speaking out I get the message across to one person it will be worth it,” she said. “I will certainly be hiding everything out of sight from now on.

“Things like this can happen everywhere, even in hospital car parks.”

Following the incidents, police carried out a sweep of the car park and identified 19 cars with valuables on display, including laptop cases, cameras, satellite navigation systems and cash.

Letters will now be sent to the registered owners to warn them of the dangers, as part of Operation Hawkeye, a wider initiative aimed at preventing thefts from motor vehicles.

Detective Constable Emma McCabe, of Bishop Auckland CID, said: “It is so important to lock your vehicles and keep all valuables out of sight.

“We have had people break into cars for as little as 36 pence and two cigarettes.

"Thirty-nine per cent of the vehicles targeted were insecure but if a criminal sees something they want they will smash a window to get it.

“Don’t give criminals an opportunity or reason to break into your car.”

Officers are now reviewing CCTV of the car park and DC McCabe is appealing to anyone with information to contact her on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800-555-111.