Doncaster police are urging motorists to stop leaving their car keys in the ignition following a spate of thefts and attempted thefts across the area.
In just one 24-hour period this week, thieves have tried to steal thousands of pounds worth of vehicles, and one dad was forced to stand behind his car to stop it being taken.
The incident happened at 8.20am on Tuesday at Windsor Court, Dunsville. The driver of a £6,000 white Audi A6 left the car running on his driveway while he went inside the house to get his son.
He suddenly saw the car going backwards and ran in front of it, forcing the would-be thief to flee through the passenger door.
Then at noon at Doncaster Road, Stainforth, the driver of a £15,000 Mercedes Sprinter van left the key in the ignition while they were delivering packages. The delivery driver returned to find the van gone.
At 3.50pm a council worker visiting a client on Moss Road, Askern, left the key in the ignition of their £10,000 Ford Fiesta and returned to find it had been taken. The car was later recovered in Sykehouse thanks to a tracker device.
And at 8.57pm, a man driving a Peugeot camper van along Doncaster Road, Kirk Sandall, stopped for a toilet break leaving the key in the vehicle – and discovered he had no van to which to return.
Supt Eddie Murphy, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We have seen people injured in the past when they’ve watched their vehicle being taken and decided to take action. And one man yesterday had a lucky escape.
“The best – and only – advice is not to leave your key in the ignition and provide temptation for thieves.
“It only takes seconds to steal a car if the driver makes it easy.”
A van, left insecure due to a faulty door, was also targeted overnight from Monday into Tuesday at Mill Lane, High Melton, and had £3,000 worth of electrical equipment stolen.
South Yorkshire Police officers are tackling house burglary and vehicle crime through Operation Lockdown, which began last month.
The latest phase, which includes a tailor-made website, was launched today.