A HIGH RANKING police officer has hit out at car drivers following hundreds of thefts from cars in two Hampshire towns.

Chief Inspector for Fareham and Gosport Sharon Woolrich has hit out at drivers who were ‘irresponsibly’ leaving their cars unlocked following thefts from 320 cars.

Hampshire police said that 164 cars were targeted in Fareham and 163 in Gosport between August 19 and November 13, a total of 86 days.

She said: "Some people seem to irresponsibly think that by leaving their vehicle deliberately insecure it avoids damage being caused if someone does try to break in.

"In reality they are attracting thieves to return to the area on a regular basis with no regard for other residents."

"I’d estimate that 90% of the reports made to us relate to insecure vehicles as no damage has been caused and we rarely find that thieves have used any sort of device to try to unlock vehicles or disarm alarms in Gosport or Fareham."

As part of a bid to crackdown, members from the town’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams have been patrolling with Police Cadets to spot check vehicles and deliver crime prevention advice to drivers as well as contacting drivers in person or by letter if their vehicle is found to be left insecure or valuables are left on display.

Inspector Woolrich added: "In many cases the items taken have not been of high value, but loose change left in centre consoles and items left on show have attracted thieves to search elsewhere in the vehicle in case anything else was left.

"As you’d expect items such as sat navs and sunglasses have then been taken.

"While we’re investigating which of these reports may be linked, I strongly suspect that the thieves involved may be opportunistic and are trying a number of vehicles to see if they are insecure."

Anybody who sees anyone acting suspiciously around a car or who has dashcam or private CCTV footage of anyone tampering with a vehicle has should call Hampshire Police on 101.