Motorists are being warned after more than 900 vans were broken into with thousands of pounds of tools stolen over the last six months across Rutland and Leicestershire.
Thieves have smashed windows and forced locks to gain entry while some even used devices to override the locking system leaving no sign of forced entry.
Leicestershire Police state that since May 2017 939 vans have been broken into with 113 in August, 142 in September and 168 in October.
Many of the vehicles were broken into while parked overnight and van owners are being urged not to leave tools in vans.
The police has launched Operation Pioneer to try to halt the trend and to arrest those who are responsible.
Inspector Simon Preston, the lead for vehicle crime, said: “We have seen a large number of vans being broken into since May.
“There are many more self-employed people these days who park their vans on their drive at home overnight which makes them an easy target for thieves.
“Some hotel car parks are also being targeted and we’re working with hotel managers to give tradespeople crime prevention advice when they book in.
“I would encourage van owners to take precautions, both at home and when staying overnight in hotels, to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of this type of crime.
“The very best thing you can do to protect yourself is to remove your tools, equipment and other valuables every night.
“These tools are essential for people to carry out their jobs, and without them their livelihood can be affected.
“We are urging people to follow our advice to ensure they don’t fall victim to tool theft.”
Van owners are also being urged to take security measures such as parking in a garage, installing security lights or fitting an alarm.
Motorists should fit a sign stating tools are not kept overnight in the van or park the vehicle close to a wall so the doors cannot be opened.
Report any suspicious activity to the police immediately on 101.