MORE than 60 vehicles were found unlocked, along with keys left in a front door during a security operation by police in a newly built village.

Police responding to a wave of thefts in Buckshaw Village, near Chorley, found 62 cars and vans and 15 garages were unlocked and unsecured during a two-and-half-hour period in which hundreds of homes were visited by officers.

One homeowner had even left his front door keys dangling from the lock.

During the two and a half hour operation 15 officers went door to door in Buckshaw, a village of around 2,000 homes which has been built over the last eight years.

Community beat officer for Buckshaw, PC Mike Payne, said officers were surprised that so many people had left valuable items insecure.

He said: “The village has been plagued in recent months by property thefts from vehicles and garages.

“It’s our number one priority in the area and so an operation like this was organised during the evening travel home from work period.

“Neighbourhood police from other areas and council community officers were drafted in for the afternoon and we visited more than 1,000 homes.

“Buckshaw is a new community and the road links mean it’s just a few minutes drive to both the M6 and the M61 so our feeling is that opportunist thieves are travelling into the area.

“Some of the residents who we informed about the unlocked cars were a little sheepish and embarrassed .”

Officers subsequently talked to many residents offering safety tips on crime prevention.

Buckshaw resident Chris Hopper, 28, of Buchanan Court, said: “I’m shocked that there would be so many people leaving their cars and homes open to theft.

“I like to think that I lock my car every time but there maybe the odd time where I’ve forgotten.

“It’s a high density area for houses and flats and I suppose thieves chance their luck.”

Chorley Inspector, Dave Robinson said: “Crime prevention is everyone’s responsibility and people in Chorley can help us by keeping their vehicles and homes locked and valuables out of sight.”