FESTIVE shoppers are being urged to keep Christmas presents and valuables out of sight of thieves this winter.

Police say people often make themselves easy targets and tempt thieves by leaving heavy goods in their cars while they carry on shopping.

Officers are urging drivers not to let thieves ruin their Christmas and not to leave any presents in a vehicle.

Motorists are being reminded to remove all valuables such as portable sound and sat-nav systems and fittings when they leave their cars unattended and to take them with them, not simply pop them into the glove compartment.

Satellite navigation systems top the wish lists of many thieves, as do other gadgets left on view such as mobile phones.

But Sgt Andy Haigh, of North Yorkshire Police, said thieves will steal anything and warned drivers to take every precaution to avoid being a victim of crime this Christmas.

Thefts from vehicles have actually been reduced, with year-on-year figures for October showing an 11 per cent drop, representing 58 fewer victims of crime, but Sgt Haigh said North Yorkshire Police wanted to drive the figure down further.

“Despite warnings, people all too often leave their Christmas presents and valuables in full view,’’ he said.

“Leaving a pile of wrapped or unwrapped Christmas presents in plain view in your car is an open invitation to the opportunist thief, so put your bags in your boot and lock it.

“Satellite navigation systems are also popular with the car thief and are easy to sell on.

‘‘So take your sat nav with you and remove any visible attachment fittings.

“Don’t give thieves an easy ride – it could ruin your Christmas.”

Catalytic converters also continue to be a prime target for thieves because of high metal prices.

Motorists can have their catalytic converters marked for free at selected York garages, such as Halfords in Foss Islands Road, to prevent vehicles being targeted.