A smash and grab job - car receives expensive blow to the window. Picture for illustration purpose only

Nottinghamshire police have launched several investigations after areas in Nottingham and Mansfield have been caught up in a spate of car and van break-ins.

Many unfortunate residents have had a week to forget, with thieves causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to their vehicles.

It is thought that criminals are targeting vehicles that have been left unlocked for a short time period and are vulnerable to ‘smash and grab’ thefts.

Vans are being targeted specifically by thieves for the industrial tools and materials that tradespeople so desperately rely upon, that have been stored inside the vehicles overnight.

Neighbourhood Sergeant Neil Priestly said: “In the meantime, we are asking car owners and residents to be vigilant with their vehicles.”

“The main message is to always lock your vehicle, no matter how quick you think you’re going to be.”

Police have increased patrols in the affected areas, which includes Forrest Town, where over six vehicles were targeted within the same night on Sunday evening.

It is thought that with an increase in police presence on the streets, particularly after 8pm, this will act as a deterrent for opportunistic thieves.

“We’ve had our number plate stolen, we actually watched them take it through the window.”

Joanne Dennis, 62, retired

Victims of the damage have described how windows have been broken, cars vandalised and how Sat-navs, items of clothing and even CDs have been stolen.

In some cases over £300 worth of goods have been stolen.

Officers are promising to analyse CCTV footage from areas which have been most affected to follow up several lines of enquiry relating to the incidents.

Former school teacher, Joanne Dennis said: “We’ve had our number plate stolen, we actually watched them take it through the window.”

Van owners are being advised to place ‘no tools are kept in here overnight’ stickers on their vehicles and car owners are advised to completely remove all valuables from sight.