MORE than 70 vehicles in one town have been broken into during the past three months – prompting police to issue a security warning.

Officers in Chester-le-Street are investigating a spate of thefts by opportunist thieves who stole property from vehicles which has been left insecure.

Investigations have found that the thieves are trying door handles of vehicles as they walk by until they find one unlocked.

As well as targeting suspects, officers have been carrying out specific patrols in the affected areas, identifying insecure vehicles and discussing this with the owner. A police spokesperson said most residents were pleased to be given a reminder but a small number seem happy to leave their vehicles unlocked.

Chester-le Street Neighbourhood Inspector Dave Coxon said: “We can go for weeks without having any thefts from vehicle and overnight see dozens of vehicles targeted.

“This doesn’t need to be a problem, if people lock their vehicles when leaving them, as we know that thieves are only interested in unlocked vehicles.

“It can be very easy to leave your car unlocked and most residents we have spoken have done so by accident. What the others need to consider is that leaving their vehicle insecure not only causes a problem for their neighbours but also can invalidate your insurance.

“For those people who we are repeatedly having to speak to about their vehicle being unlocked, we will be informing them that we can contact their insurers."

Anyone with CCTV footage of people trying door handles is asked to call Chester-le-Street police team on 101.