POLICE are urging tradies not to leave tools unattended following a spate of thefts from vans and utes across Melbourne's west.
Maribyrnong police crime prevention officer Craig McDonald said brazen thieves were stealing thousands of dollars worth of tools and equipment from vehicles parked in Maribyrnong, Hobsons Bay and Wyndham.
"We're seeing up to $5000 worth of tools being stolen in one go," he said.
Thieves are working day and night, and they're growing bolder.
Leading Senior Constable McDonald said thieves were targeting busy work sites and vehicles locked up on streets at night.
"They are getting very cocky. They're just walking onto a building site in overalls and taking off with these tools, which they can then sell on," he said.
"They're taking advantage of the fact these busy sites have a lot of people coming and going."
Vehicles left parked on streets, in driveways and even in garages at night are having windows smashed and trays broken into.
Constable McDonald conceded that taking extra precautions was a pain, but he said tradies must be vigilant if they don't want to be cleaned out. "This means locking their vehicles at all times when they're on site and taking out everything valuable when they get home at night.
"There's a lot of building happening across the west at the moment and we're finding this is happening right across the area. The stats show it's getting worse."