Burglars in Sunderland have taken to using makeshift fishing rods to steal sets of keys through letter boxes.
Northumbria Police were informed of a burglary in Charter Drive last week, with the offenders having pushed a bamboo cane with a hook on the end through the letter box to get car keys which were in the hallway.
The keys were then used to steal the car on the driveway, according to the police, with the incident taking place between 11.30pm last Monday and 8am the following day. The car is a black BMW X6 with the registration M14 KYY.
On the same day, there was a similar incident on Dykelands Road, where an object was used through a letter box to steal house keys, which the offenders used to unlock the front door.
Again, police say they took car keys to steal two cars parked on the driveway. The incident happened between 1am and 7.15am, and the cars taken were a blue Ford Fiesta, with registration NX09 USZ, and a black Nissan Micra with registration MA06 OCS, which remain outstanding.
Police are carrying out inquiries into both incidents and are appealing for any witnesses, in particular anyone who may know the whereabouts of the vehicles.
However, officers also want to remind residents not to leave sets of keys within sight or reach of any access points to the property, including the letter box, doors and windows.
Last Friday, police carried out a joint operation with Durham Constabulary and arrested two men - aged 35 and 34 - on suspicion of carrying out similar offences across Sunderland and South Tyneside.
Detective Inspector Paul Stewart said: "Burglars are taking advantage of people leaving sets of keys in the hallway and using makeshift fishing rods to steal them so they can either steal a vehicle parked outside or use them to get easy access to the house and while this tactic is not new - we've seen it before many times - we are starting to see a slight increase in the number of recent incidents where this has happened.
"We consistently issue crime prevention advice and encourage our communities to make sure they keep their homes secure by locking doors and closing windows when they are not in the room, but unfortunately if they have left keys on a table or hanging by the front door, they are still leaving themselves open to becoming a victim.
"Rather than leaving keys by the front or back door or near a window, our advice would be store them in a drawer out of view from anyone looking in - if burglars can't see them they're less likely to target your home."