CAR crime in Adur and Worthing has risen by almost 40 per cent in the last year.
Shoreham, Sompting and Lancing have seen the biggest spike, with 243 thefts of vehicles and theft from vehicles offences in the period from April 1 to October 16 this year, 73.6 per cent more than in the same period last year.
Between August 6 and September 23 there were 65 separate offences reported to Sussex Police, but many more are thought to go unreported.
Most of the incidents occurred in the early hours of the morning, with thieves stealing sat navs, designer sunglasses, tools from vans and other valuable items.
In Worthing, car crime north of the railway line has risen by 18.4 per cent, with 148 incidents this year, up from 125 last year.
South of the railway line has seen a 17 per cent increase, with 117 crimes this year compared to 100 last year.
Police are trying to establish if the Worthing figures are an overspill from Adur.
Insp Allan Lowe said: “There is a lot of work going on to tackle this including a local action team set up by the Safer Communities Partnership.
“Our general message is that the public should always keep their cars secure and keep valuables, including satellite navigation units, out of the car when unattended.
“In addition, should they see any suspicious activity, we want the public to call us on 101 (or 999 if it appears obvious that a crime is in progress) so that we can provide a quick response.
“If anyone has any information on who may be committing vehicle crime in our district or where stolen items may be going, then they again should ring 101 or contact their local PCSO.”
Partners of the local action team include Neighbourhood Watch, Sussex Police and district councillors.
Chairman councillor David Simmons, who also chairs the Adur and Worthing Safer Communities Partnership, said: “There are a number of strands to the initiative – public education to encourage people to remove valuable items from their vehicles and secure them, encourage people to record details of their valuable items so that if they are stolen, details are available should property be recovered, gathering crime intelligence to identify those responsible and identifying the outlets for stolen property.”
Community signs will be placed in affected areas and rewards will be paid where information has led to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible.
The campaign will be officially launched at ASDA Lancing on Tuesday and at Holmbush on Wednesday.
Police officers, PCSOs and councillors will be talking to the public about car crime and encouraging them to secure their vehicles.