Officers are asking residents to report more incidents involving people driving anti-socially in high powered cars because those behind the wheel could be serious criminals.
It comes following a spate of recent burglaries in the Cotswolds, where stolen top end cars like Golf Rs and a number of Audi and Mercedes models have been used to help commit break-ins at shops and homes.
An operation has been set up to tackle the rising problem, which is part of a wider regional and national trend.
Detective superintendent Steve Bean, head of investigations for Gloucestershire police said: “In the police we call it serious and organised acquisitive crime or ‘SOAC’ but in plain language it’s basically gangs of lads burgling and stealing.
“As is often the way, they have a tendency to show off and act like idiots when they get behind the wheel of a fast car.
“As part of their planning, they will often explore rural areas looking for the next potential premises and vehicles to target, so our key message to residents in rural areas is that you can help us by calling in any incidents that look suspicious – particularly any anti-social driving, driving slowly past premises or cars found parked up or driving on private land.
“These travelling criminals will ‘stick out like a sore thumb’ and we want to encourage people to ring us if they’ve seen anything that looks even vaguely ‘out of place’ for the area.
“Something that may on the face of it seem quite trivial or innocuous, may actually be the little piece of the jigsaw that we need to prevent or detect a serious crime, so we need members of the community to be our ‘eyes and ears’ and call it in.
“We know that they will also steal number plates and use them on stolen vehicles, which they then use as getaway cars, so please be alert for any suspicious activity that may be related.
“If something doesn’t feel right then call 101.”
A team of officers has been established to investigate possible links between a number of recent incidents, including the burglary of two shops in Fairford and a break-in at a post office in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Extra patrols are taking place in rural areas as part of the operation and a number of crime prevention measures are being taken to address the issue.
Superintendent Bean added: “Burglary is a high priority for the force, the chief constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner, and this is one example of the work we are doing.
“Whilst numbers are actually down, it’s not all about statistics.
“We understand how devastating burglaries can be for victims and in cases like these, which often involve the threat of violence and considerable damage, their effect is felt right across a community.
“These burglars travel around the county, region and even the country and there is likely to be a number of different criminal gangs involved.
“They sometimes carry weapons and drive dangerously so we would always ask the public not to intervene if they discover an incident in progress.
“Our best tactic is to ensure everyone is vigilant, reports suspicious activity and takes sensible crime prevention measures.
“In particular we would also ask owners of high-powered cars to consider their vehicle and house security.
“Don’t just rely on electronic security like immobilisers and alarms, because the criminals will sometimes break into a house just to steal the keys, making those measures obsolete.
“Physical security devices such as steering wheel and handbrake locks, wheel clamps or simple things like padlocking gates or blocking your car in with another vehicle, can deter the thieves.
“Always make sure that any security related keys are then kept separate from the vehicle keys and stored in a safe place, out of sight of any windows.”