Five vehicles are stolen every day in Lancashire, shocking new figures reveal.
In the last year more than 1,600 cars have been stolen with police data showing vehicle crime is steadily on the rise across the county.
A Gazette investigation has also uncovered hundreds of car-jackings, thousands of vehicles damaged and thousands of car break-ins in Lancashire.
It comes just days after we reported how an opportunistic thief drove off in a taxi, parked up outside Mecca Bingo on Talbot Road, with a terrified elderly passenger sat in the back seat.
One of many victims of car theft is the manager of a Fylde garage Chris Spencer who says he has watched vehicle crime rise ever since he had a car stolen last year.
A white BMW worth £3,500 was stolen from Lawtons of Fleetwood in January 2016 and Chris says selling cars abroad has become a popular market.
“The big problem for us is vans but I think you’re seeing more expensive cars stolen than you used to,” the 64-year-old from Fleetwood said.
“It comes down to what they can sell it for and lots of them can be shipped to other countries in a matter of hours.
“We’ve installed CCTV but it doesn’t seem to have stopped them so far. It’s a very difficult task to try and keep up with criminals because their methods are getting more advanced all the time.”
Stats show high end cars to be the main targets, with criminals using advanced technology to pray on keyless entry to steal expensive motors.
And Lancashire-based vehicle security and tracking experts, Scorpion Automotive, says valuable cars are becoming more vulnerable.
“Criminals have become increasingly sophisticated,” said Carl James, head of marketing. “Many vehicles are being stolen or broken into by thieves using electronic hacking equipment.
“There are countless examples of how all types and values of vehicles can be stolen in less than 30 seconds without the need for the owner’s keys.”
Between April 2015 and March 2016, more than 2,100 vehicles were stolen in Lancashire and so far in 2016/17, 1,659 have already been illegally taken.
And Lancashire Police says simple tips like parking in well-lit areas, removing your valuables and not leaving keys in clear view of windows and in reach of letter boxes can help protect your vehicle.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “It only takes a few seconds to steal from a vehicle and many of these crimes are from unlocked vehicles so always make sure you lock it.
“Consider steering locks, alarms, tracking devices and immobilisers and if you have them, use them.
“Vehicle crime is an occupation for some people, don’t make your vehicle an easy target for them.”