Elderly people leaving keys in cars and doors unlocked are becoming prime targets for burglars and thieves.
Police say the issue is happening more across the district because the population is growing, bringing new people into the area.
Leeston Constable Herb Inwood said it was brought to his attention after an elderly man’s unlocked ute was stolen while he did the grocery shopping.
Constable Inwood says Leeston is not alone for elderly being targeted and similar incidents are increasing in Darfield and Lincoln.
The man, in his mid-70s, left his red Nissan Navara, with the personalised number plate ‘CHICK’, unlocked with the engine running at the LeestonFreshChoice car park on High St at 12.23pm on February 1, Constable Inwood said.
Leaving the car running was common in years gone by, but it should not be done today, he said.
CCTV picked up footage of a person wearing a grey hoodie entering the red ute but the identity of the person was unclear, he said.
A phone with a GPS tracker was left in the vehicle but the signal was lost at Harmans Rd, near Drain Rd, Constable Inwood said.
“It’s just the sort of thing [leaving cars unlocked] that the older people seem to do. They go: ‘Oh, it’s only Leeston, it’ll be alright’. But things are changing unfortunately,” he said.
The elderly man was “pretty embarrassed” about the incident, he said.
“I’ll guarantee that it’s not the locals like the 20 or 30-year families who are doing the dishonest stuff,” Constable Inwood said.
“It’s the people who have come into the district or their associates.”
He said it was “the same” in Lincoln and Darfield.
Selwyn’s population has grown from 44,595 in 2012/13 and is projected to be around 61,399 in 2019/20, according to district council figures.
•If you have information about the stolen ute, phone Leeston Police on 378 0150