POLICE have launched a drive to combat car crime after a spate of thefts from vehicles in Accrington.
During the last six weeks 20 cars have been broken into in the town centre, Hyndburn Road and Woodnook areas.
Officers have upped patrols but motorists are being urged not to give the thieves a helping hand by leaving items on display in their cars.
Sergeant Nick Williams-Jones said: "There is no exact pattern to link the times and dates of the thefts, although most of them happened during the day.
"The common denominator is that the vast majority of thefts have been of satellite navigation systems and speed camera detectors.
"And in many cases property was left on view in the cars such as cash in ashtrays and CDs.
"It would appear that the catalyst for it is seeing property, in particular electronic equipment, on display. This draws the thieves to the vehicle and when they are in they will then open glove compartments.
"As always we urge people to look back when they leave their cars to see if there is anything on display, and if there is they should remove it and put it in the boot."
Police believe that a team of thieves are operating in the area and officers are actively targeting town centre car parks in a bid to catch the culprits.
Sgt Williams-Jones added: "We have increased visible patrols, we have officers in plain clothes going around the car parks and we have been using a sting vehicle with recording equipment.
"We are also using the town centre CCTV system and asking the operators to monitor all parking areas and car parks."
But one furious resident whose wife's car was broken into on the car park in King Street last week, said that motorists should have been warned that there was a problem.
He said: "My wife's car was broken into while she was at work and CDs and personal documents were stolen.
"Apparently it is a regular occurrence but there are no warning signs telling motorists that thieves are operating in the area and there is no lighting in the car park. Something needs to be done about this."
Anyone with information should contact Sergeant Williams-Jones on 353702.