AS Hampshire Constabulary calls on residents to “lock it or lose it”, a perceived “increase in crime” has been blamed on a lack of police presence.

In a statement last week, officers in East Hampshire urged people to be more vigilant with their vehicles.

The warning followed 21 reports of people stealing from, or tampering with, vehicles, made to the district’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams over the past fortnight. Five of these reports related to Bordon, eight were reported in Alton, and three in Clanfield.

But petty crime like this is not a new concern. Recent Neighbourhood Watch crime lists appear to expose a rising trend in burglaries, theft and vandalism in Bordon. Whether this is of statistical significance - a case of more crimes being reported - or a cause for concern remains to be seen.

But former Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Lynda Skinner believes the situation is due to fewer police patrols around Whitehill and Bordon.

“Although I stood down as Sunbury Close Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, I still pass on the newsletter,” she said.

“I am really concerned at the increase in crime in and around our area. At one time, Bordon was one of the safest places to live. Now without police presence, people think they can do as they like.”

She cited an example of a driver parking on double yellow lines in Heathcote Road next to a car park with “several spaces available”.

“When I politely pointed out that he was causing an obstruction to traffic trying to turn right out of Sunbury Close, he shrugged his shoulders and walked away,” she added. “I took a photo and forwarded it, as I had been requested, to parking at East Hampshire District Council. They had said if cars were photographed a number of times on different occasions, they would take action. How can we possibly stop the deterioration of our safety?”

Anecdotes like this might not faithfully reflect the true nature of crime statistics, but it seems reasonable to conclude, by reading an average Neighbourhood Watch list, that Whitehill and Bordon sees a lot of anti-social, opportunistic and low-level crime.

The most recent is a typical run-down of local crime and features a garage break-in, vehicle damage, theft from a parked car, stolen tools, a stolen and burnt motorbike, stolen chainsaws and plenty more.

Of recent vehicle crime, Chief Insp Clare Jenkins said: “We do not believe that all of these reports are linked, but it sends a clear message to motorists across East Hampshire that you should always lock your vehicle, no matter how long it is unattended, and don’t leave valuables on display.

“With the nights getting darker and winter drawing in, there is potential for this problem to get worse. Don’t leave your vehicle unattended at any time if it is unlocked. Some people may start the ignition in advance of leaving on a cold morning - if you do then make sure you don’t go back inside your home and provide an easy target for a thief.

“The current figures show on average, at least one person is becoming a victim of this kind of crime each day in East Hampshire.

“We’re doing our best to address the issue, but in many cases theft can be prevented by observing simple crime prevention advice.

“We have been working to establish if patterns of vehicle tampering or theft have emerged, and where hot spots have been identified we’ve spoken to residents and increased patrols.

“Many of these incidents involve the theft of items, like tools, from a vehicle which can have a dramatic impact on the victim’s livelihood. Where possible don’t leave expensive equipment in vans overnight.

“Take note of the crime-prevention advice we’ve been issuing and call 101 if you can assist enquiries.”

Last month police issued similar advice following a spate of 31 non-dwelling burglaries in East Hampshire, reported within the space of two weeks. Although a lot of these crimes featured a forced entry, the advice was for residents to ensure their property was safely locked and secured.

Most crimes reported in Bordon are listed as anti-social behaviour (297 incidents from September 2015 to August 2016, according to Violent crime (179 incidents) and criminal damage and arson (115 incidents) come in second and third place.

Although the data varies depending on the time of the year, burglary appears to have marginally increased over the period (108 incidents). But a spike in November and December 2015 does skew the data, with 45 break-ins recorded in these two months in Bordon, far in excess of the average.