POLICE investigating a spate of car thefts across West Yorkshire have made several arrests.
Thieves have targeted cars in the county by breaking into people's homes to steal the keys to drive them away.
The thefts have happened all over - including Huddersfield.
More than 1,000 cars have been stolen in the county so far this year during burglaries.
Police raided 26 homes and one business in Bradford and Leeds last Wednesday and arrested 14 people.
Police say this is the first phase of a countywide operation.
Officers are targeting burglars, along with those suspected of profiting from the crimes by making and supplying false number plates or buying and driving stolen vehicles.
A specialist squad has been set up in West Yorkshire to tackle this kind of crime.
Criminals go into homes to steal the keys because ever more sophisticated car security systems make it difficult for them to break into vehicles and drive them away.
Top-of-the-range, high-performance vehicles are specifically targeted. False number plates are fitted and the cars are sold for knock-down prices.
Det Supt Howard Crowther, who is in charge of the operation, urged people to take extreme care over their car keys.
He said: "No-one would dream of leaving a suitcase containing £25,000 in their driveway and the key where intruders could reach it.
"But that's exactly what they do with their cars."
He added: "There may be some unsuspecting victims and we would always urge potential buyers not to purchase anything without valid documents.
"However, many of the buyers know the vehicles are stolen, do not have any documents and are more than happy to drive them."
The cars most commonly targeted by thieves are VWs, BMWs and Hondas.
TIPS TO HELP FOIL THE CROOKS
* Always park cars in garages. Insurance cover could be invalid if a car is stolen from outside.
* Consider fitting an electric garage door. This is an added incentive to use it for people who can't be bothered getting out to unlock the door, especially in bad weather.
* People who have to park in the driveway should consider fitting substantial gates or security posts.
* Don't leave car keys hanging up in the kitchen, hallway or on tables, where they can be easily seen. Hide them.
* Never leave house doors or windows unlocked.
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