A series of '2 in1' burglaries across South Tyneside has prompted police to issue a warning to residents to lock your doors.
The call comes after a number of properties in the area have been hit by burglars who not only break into a person's home but take their vehicles as well.
Since January 14 there have been three crimes of this nature in South Tyneside - in all three criminals were able to walk into properties through unlocked doors.
The first happened between 11.30pm on January 14 and 7am the following a day when a house in Hopkins Walk in South Shields was burgled.
The criminal used an unlocked door to get into the house and steal car keys to a silver Toyota Yaris. The vehicle was taken and later found abandoned by police in Alnwick Road, West Harton.
At 9pm on Friday, January 15, burglars went into a house in Nora Street, again via a door that had been left unlocked and took the keys to a red Vauxhall Astra before driving away in the vehicle. The car remains missing.
On Saturday, January 16, between 7.05pm and 7.20pm there was a third burglary where burglars went into a property in Olive Street through an unlocked door and again stole the car keys. However, the burglars were disturbed trying to steal a car from the front of the address and fled without taking the vehicle.
It's believed there were two men, both on bicycles - one was wearing a cap, the second a woollen hat, both had their hoods up.
At 8.35pm that night, police were informed about two men whose behaviour was seemingly suspicious, the men appeared to be trying door handles in Alnwick Road.
Police were also informed at 9.40pm the same evening a vehicle had been stolen from outside a property in Sorrel Gardens.
A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of burglary and is in police custody.
T/Superintendent Sarah Pitt said: "Burglars are taking advantage of the fact people are not just leaving front doors unlocked but are leaving car keys by the front door or clearly on view making it easy for them to quickly grab them so they can then steal the vehicle parked outside.
"Most people probably do leave their keys by the front door as it's a quick place to put them when they get in and keeping them in the same place helps them stop them from losing them but unfortunately burglars are wise to this.
"I don't want to scare people but it's really important they do take time to consider crime prevention. Burglars are actively trying front doors to see if they've been left unlocked and where they have they're going into the house and stealing anything they can quickly without being noticed - and if car keys have been left by the front door or on clear view they're effectively able to commit two crimes in one - burgling the house and stealing the vehicle.
"Being the victim of a burglary is incredibly distressing, not just for the victims themselves but those around them - their family, friends and neighbours - who also become more fearful they too could be a victim.
"We're doing everything we can to reduce the number of burglaries, we are actively targeting those we believe to be responsible and ensuring quick action is taken against them and extra officers are being deployed to the affected areas to carry out regular patrols and help stop burglars in their tracks.
"It's really important our communities work with us and help us by taking a few crime prevention steps that can help prevent these burglaries from happening in the first instance - our advice is always lock the front door, even if you're in the house if you're at the back of the house someone can be in and out without you knowing and make sure valuable items - such as car keys, purses, wallets, mobile phones are left somewhere safe and out of view."
Any witnesses to the burglaries should contact Northumbria Police on 101.