Police have warned Tidworth residents to “be mindful” of their vehicle security following reports of a man acting suspiciously near cars in the early hours of Friday morning.

Wiltshire Police received a number of calls from residents surrounding Colling Lane and Dowse Close in the early hours of October 23 regarding a man they claim was trying car door handles in the area.

Police said that they were aware of one occasion where a pair of binoculars had been stolen from a vehicle at approximately 2.45am.

Sergeant Russell Griffin said: "Thefts from vehicles are often committed by opportunistic thieves who will try their luck to see if anyone has left their vehicle unlocked, before taking whatever they find inside.

"I'd like to urge residents to be mindful of this - ensure your vehicles are always locked, windows are shut and your keys are secure within your home. Any valuables left within your car and in sight will be seen as an invite by opportunistic thieves so please don't give them an easy ride.

"Enquiries into reports received during the early hours of this morning are currently ongoing."

Police recommended a series of steps car owners could take in order to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of crime.

Vehicles should be kept locked, with the windows shut, and parked in a well-lit area in clear view of the owner’s property. Valuable items such as satnavs should be kept out of sight.

For van owners, police recommend that they should be parked close to buildings and hedges in a way that restricts access to them, with tools removed overnight if possible. Photographs should be taken of valuable objects, and serial numbers marked, while artificial DNA markers such as Smartwater can also be used to help identify these items.

The call comes after catalytic converter thefts increased by 600 per cent in the past year, leaving affected owners with bills that can reach into the thousands of pounds.