Police are warning drivers of Ford Transit Vans with a sliding door not to leave valuables in vehicles as officers fear criminals may have a skeleton key to access them.
Four vans were targeted overnight in Redcar, with expensive tools stolen and no sign of forced entry to the vehicles. Officers believe a skeleton key will allow thieves to get inside the van but not to drive off with it.
The thefts on Tees Road, Greta Road, Thames Road and Derwent Road were all reported to police this morning after owners found that vans had either been searched or had tools stolen.
Officers fear that thieves could attempt to strike again and are warning owners and drivers to be vigilant and remove valuables, especially overnight.
Investigations are at an early stage but officers are conducting several lines enquiry to trace those responsible.
Anyone with any information on the thefts is asked to contact Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.