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Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Former thief helps police in Leicester target car crime
Theft of a laptop from a car
Police officers will be patrolling car parks during the Christmas period

A former thief from Leicester, who has admitted to breaking into over 100 cars, is helping police combat vehicle crime in the run up to Christmas.

James Hazell, 25, also committed burglary and shoplifted in order to fund his £50 a day heroin addiction.

After serving two prison sentences he is keen to use his knowledge of car crime to offer advice to motorists.

Leicestershire Constabulary are aiming to reduce the December average of just under 300 vehicle break-ins.

Inspector Toby Day said, "Criminals aren't stupid, the first place they look is under seats and in glove compartments; if it's not on show, they'll have a look anyway."

James agrees. His usual routine would involve peering through car windows looking for possible valuables and checking for unlocked doors.

He considered anything left on display as potentially holding some value and thought nothing of taking a chance by smashing through a window to find out.

Park in well lit areas
Remove portable car stereos and sat-navs
Shut and lock windows and doors when leaving your vehicle
Never leave valuable items on display, even coats or carrier bags can attract thieves
Steering wheel locks and immobilisers are a good deterrent for thieves

"It doesn't matter if it's an old coat or not - it could have a wallet in there full of money. Some people leave their phone in there. You'd be surprised what you'd find in them," he said.

James is currently nearing the end of his supervision period with the Probation Service and is determined to stay out of trouble.

"I went to jail for 11 months and I didn't see my little lad once then, so it was a bit of a wake-up call and obviously I don't want him going down the same paths I went.

"I want to be a good role model to him, and I want him to know that his dad's coming home at the end of the night and not back in jail.

"And I've been able to save for his Christmas presents as well so that's a big thing for me," he said.

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