Bendigo police are urging locals to lock their cars and houses to protect themselves from would-be Grinches ahead of Christmas.
In the past week alone, Inspector Mick Talbot said there had been 16 residential burglaries and 15 cars broken into.
He said it was a trend he unfortunately expected to continue right through the Christmas and New Year period.
“It’s more than just a number – each of those represents someone’s house or car that’s been broken into,” Inspector Talbot said.
“It’s somebody’s hard-earned items.”
The warning comes against a bleak backdrop from Victoria Police, who predicted 2400 cars would be broken into, about 1800 homes would be burgled and just under 900 cars would be stolen between now and January 3 across the state.
Inspector Talbot said there were simple things people could do to protect themselves from theft.
Despite the heat, he urged people to make sure all their doors and windows were closed and locked.
If newly-bought gifts were in the car, he urged locals to store them in the boot or cover them up.
If going away on holidays, it was advised they ask a neighbour to pick up the mail and stop papers being delivered to give the impression the house was occupied.
“We’re urging people not to let their home become a shopping centre for thieves,” he said.
“Do whatever you can to keep your valuables safe.
“You don’t want kids to wake up at Christmas time and cry because there are no presents.”
Victims of theft at this time are “obviously distraught and upset”, he said.
“They might have something paid through lay-by for 12 months, and it's gone through a crime of opportunity or a lapse for leaving a window open, and they have to explain to their children why the gifts are gone,” he said.
“The trauma associated with this time is exacerbated this time of year.
“Christmas is meant to be a time with family, but it becomes tarnished – it blemishes Christmas for years to come.”
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