A BELSIZE Lane shop owner suspects that Eastern European thieves, armed with devices which allow them to unlock car doors, are back in north London.
The alarm was first raised in the Ham&High in November 2009 when BMW drivers in the area reported a string of copy cat thefts.
The victims, all from Hampstead and Highgate, were convinced the thieves had used special technology to open their vehicle doors, just as a legitimate car key would.
After this initial spate, the break-ins appeared to drop off, but this week Shiraz Alidina warned that the trend had started again.
The shopkeeper, who runs Late Nite Extra newsagents in Belsize Lane, told how he and his three neighbours all had their luxury cars broken into this month.
Mr Alidina said his top of the range Mercedes was hit just 10 days ago outside his home on Eastside Road, Temple Fortune.
The only indication that a crime had occurred was his car door being slightly open and the disappearance of £30, along with two bottles of expensive aftershave.
The 63-year-old then discovered that his neighbours had also had the same experience with their cars, which included another Mercedes, a Lexus and a Rover.
Mr Alidina said: “They will take anything that’s available in the car. They don’t leave a mess and then they just disappear.
“When you get to the car, whichever door they have used is just clicked half open – it’s not properly ajar.
“I’m convinced that whoever it is can access cars without breaking into them.
“I would imagine this is quite an organised gang who go together and are using some kind of device. Most of my customers are saying it’s an Eastern European gang and they have managed to get hold of a device that can break the code of these new cars.”
In a separate incident, a motorist in Belsize Crescent had his silver BMW 3 Series stolen overnight on Sunday last week.
Roger Montgomery, who heads up the local neighbourhood watch, said that while this case differed from the Temple Fortune thefts it was potentially the start of a summer of car crime.
“It seems long Bank Holiday weekends are a favourite time for car thieves because they know a lot of people will be out of town
“Over the summer months in the past there have been quite a lot of car thefts.”
A Barnet police spokesman said: “The theft of items from motor vehicles is one of the main ward priorities for Golders Green, so we do ask that people come and report any such events to us immediately. As criminals use a wide variety of methods to commit their crimes, there is only one sure-fire way to prevent anything being stolen from your car, namely not leaving anything in your car when you leave it unattended.
“Apart from obvious items like Sat-navs and phones, even unlikely items such as CDs, loose change, and even carrier bags containing non-valuable items can all act as a lure for thieves thinking there may be something valuable to steal.
“Secondly, do not rely purely on remote locking devices which many modern cars have, as these can run out of battery or simply not activate sometimes, so always check your car is actually locked after pushing the button.”
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