HORSHAM police have launched an operation targeting unlocked, unattended vehicles.
From today, offenders will face a $144 fine.
A soaring number of thefts from motor vehicles has triggered the clampdown.
Horsham Senior Constable Stuart Chilver said there had been 52 thefts from motor vehicles in Horsham and district so far this financial year.
“About 44 per cent of those have occurred on the street, and 28 per cent near driveways or front yards of homes,” he said.
The figures represent an 8.5 per cent jump in reported thefts from motor vehicles, compared with the previous financial year.
Between 10.55am and 2.25pm on Thursday, Horsham police found 19 unattended cars that were either unlocked or had windows down far enough for people to reach into the vehicle and unlock the door.
By the end of the day, police had identified more than 30 vehicles unlocked, with keys in the ignition, windows down or valuables on display in the Horsham district.
“In one instance, an unattended vehicle had keys in its ignition,” Sen Const Chilver said.
“It was quite disturbing to see so many vehicles left unattended and unlocked or insecure in such a short period.”
In some instances, he said people had left their cars unlocked or with windows rolled down as they dashed into a shop.
“That small amount of time is still time enough for an opportunistic thief to enter a vehicle, take any valuables inside and leave undetected,” Sen Const Chilver said.
He said people should expect to see Horsham police patrolling the city for unlocked or insecure unattended cars.
If a car is not completely secured, officers will leave a leaflet on the windscreen.
“After the proactive policing operation, police will start taking a reactive approach – issuing fines – to entice motorists to lock their vehicles,” Sen Const Chilver said.