Tony O'Kane | Aug 17, 2009

VICTORIA POLICE has urged motorists to keep valuables away from the eyes of opportunistic thieves, as latest figures show that loose change and GPS units are some of the most commonly stolen items from parked cars.

However, while 7860 cash-related car break-ins were recorded over the past 12 months, by far the most popular targets for thieves were number plates.

Just under 9800 number plates were stolen between July 2008 and June 2009. Although it's a markedly smaller figure than the same period a year earlier, rising fuel prices have seen criminals stealing number plates for use in petrol station drive-offs.

Wallets, purses, laptops, mobile phones and sunglasses also featured highly on Victoria Police's most-stolen list, with portable music players, cameras and clothing not far behind. Car stereos were one of the least popular items among thieves, with just 882 stereos stolen.

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“As for leaving valuables in clear view in a parked car, I am absolutely dumbfounded that people continue to do this,” Assistant Commissioner Tim Cartwright said.

“It’s a simple message – remove it or lose it.

“It only takes 20 to 30 seconds for a thief to break the window, reach in and steal something from a vehicle."

Assistant Commissioner Cartwright also said motorists could easily insure themselves against number plate theft by visiting their local police station.

“Most police stations have one-way screws available to the public and this is a really simple step people can take to prevent their plates from being removed."

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