ALMOST 20 cars have been vandalised in a 24-hour crime spree across Ballarat, costing owners thousands of dollars in lost and damaged property.
Police have issued an appeal after 11 cars were damaged at Wendouree Station at the weekend, while another six cars were targeted in a similar attack at Winter Valley overnight Sunday into Monday.
Superintendent Jenny Wilson said given the nature of the two attacks, it was likely they were linked.
She said it was hoped CCTV footage of the incident at Wendouree Station would shed a light on the offenders, who not only smashed up 11 cars, but also stole property and stole one car before running it into a pole.
"This is a new pattern in offending within the division and certainly our investigators are onto that and hopefully we'll have some CCTV footage," she said.
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"But we're obviously looking for anyone to assist us within the community by contacting us directly or Crime Stoppers."
Superintendent Wilson said while the thefts and criminal damage were disturbing, a lot of the vehicles targeted had valuables left in the car
"We are still seeing trends of people leaving valuables that can be seen," she said.
"However, the reality is what we've discovered through some of these thefts is victims have talked about having things hidden in the car.
"I think offenders know this, so really, just don't leave anything valuable in your car."
At Wendouree Station, many of the cars had their windows smashed, with belongings strewn around outside, including a handbag, and mail with names and addresses.
One car had its tyres deflated, and another, with a green P-plate attached, had been crashed into a light pole.
Superintendent Wilson said a pattern which consistently frustrated police was that a number of cars targeted had been left unlocked.
"With the push button mode of locking cars, often we find people simply forget to lock their car before they leave and we also see people leaving their car unlocked anyway across Ballarat," she said.
"While you continue to do that, offenders will go back to those locations and easy targets.
"We need the community to change their habits so they deter offenders."
She said police were investigating links between the two thefts.
"It's something we will be looking at to see if there are links," she said.
"Certainly it is something we will take into account and it would appear so at this stage."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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