Tradespeople across North Kirklees have been left counting the cost of tool theft this week.
Incidents have been reported in Dewsbury, Batley, Thornhill, Heckmondwike and Mirfield over the last few days as dark evenings continue to roll in across the region.
One victim, 65-year-old Westborough locksmith John Terry, admitted he was considering retirement after losing thousands of pounds of specialist equipment on Saturday evening.
Police suspect a decoding device was used to unlock the vehicle.
He said: “It’s just so disheartening and it’s happening everywhere.
“I left nothing open on my van, it was parked right outside my house and I checked that I’d locked it twice, as I always do.
“I lost some very specialist equipment that I don’t think I’ll ever replace. Some of those tools had been collected over 30 years.
“This is becoming a huge problem for people like me and it just makes you think, ‘is it really worth it?’”
John estimates that the cost of items taken are over £3,000, including a specialist drill valued at £800.
“I’ve begged and borrowed my way around some mates in order to go back to work, but like I say, some of those tools I’ll never replace.”
John’s wife Suzie admitted she was concerned at the strain the drama has taken on her husband.
“I do worry about him,” she said, “it’s only two years since he had a heart attack and this sort of stress isn’t good for him.
“He’s taken a big hit on this and it scares me to death. These people don’t know what they’re doing to people just for a few quid.”
Crime prevention advice taken from the West Yorkshire Police website said:
"The following advice is provided to assist you in reducing the opportunity for items of value from being stolen from your vehicle, some changes can be made free of charge and others will vary in cost depending on your vehicle and additional requirements:
"Never leave any items of value in your vehicle on leaving it unoccupied.
"Do not leave items of value in the boot – some parcel shelves may not fit flush or may have dropped off centre after use, the smallest of gaps may provide an opportunity for an offender to see through.
"Always remove sat-navs and their holders from the vehicle, and ensure that the sucker mark from the holder is wiped off the window.
"Wherever feasible do not leave any work or business related equipment in your vehicle, especially when your vehicle is left unoccupied overnight – having such items stolen can have a serious impact on your livelihood.
"If you regularly store work equipment in your vehicle overnight is there a more secure option at your place of business?
"Remove items of value from the glove box and leave it open to show that it is empty – this includes vehicle registration documentation.
"If you are out shopping don’t return to the car to leave bags on your back seat and then return to the shops.
"Ensure that windows and sunroofs are closed – never leave them open, and if you drive a convertible always close the soft top.
"You may know that a bag or a box in your vehicle is empty or contains nothing of value, but an offender won't do and it may catch their attention.
"You may want to consider additional security products depending on your vehicle – there are various solutions available to mark different parts on your vehicle, devices to assist in protecting catalytic converters and tamper proof screws for number plates. Tamper proof number plates are also available depending on budget."