THEY strike in the dead of night while families are asleep in their beds.

Breaking into Hampshire homes with just one aim – to steal the keys to the cars parked on the road outside.

And they have struck again, this time in Hedge End, getting away with two cars, a Mercedes and an Audi.

One victim has told the Daily Echo how he feels violated after thieves got inside his home in Beattie Rise and drove off in his Silver Mercedes CLK 220.

He was asleep upstairs with his family and only noticed his car was gone when he couldn’t find his car keys and looked outside to discover it was missing.

The 44-year-old, whose car was worth £8,000, said: “The issue is not the car, it’s more the violation.

“You feel violated in your own home, really – it’s the type of thing you always think happens to someone else.”

Officers are also looking at whether this theft, last Thursday, could be connected to a similar incident in Watkin Road, Hedge End.

Once again, thieves stole the car keys, this time for an Audi A6, from inside the home of a 48-year-old man. They took the vehicle from the drive, overnight between March 27 and March 28.

This latest spate of car thefts is not the first time police have come across thieves using this method of breaking into homes first to steal the car keys.

In just 48 hours over the Jubilee weekend of June 2012, burglars raided homes before stealing top-of-the-range cars worth nearly £175,000 from driveways.

Chalvington Road, in Chandler’s Ford and Holly Gardens and Lime Gardens, both in West End, were targeted within hours.

Thieves stole a black Land Rover Range Rover Sport worth £25,000, a black Mercedes CLS worth £54,000 and a black Range Rover Sport Estate worth £25,000.

Just 48 hours later homes were targeted in Southampton and a £29,000 white Mark II RS Focus and a white BMW 7 series valued at £40,000 taken.

And in 2011 thieves stole a grey Mercedes E-Class from Bassett Heath Road and a black Mercedes E-class sport from Glen Eyre Road, both worth £30,000 each after first getting into the house and grabbing the keys.

Police in Hedge End are now warning homeowners not to leave vehicle keys in obvious places and to make sure doors and windows are locked at night.

Anyone with information should call Det Con Claire Reynolds at Eastleigh CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.