STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Thefts from autos is up in Stafford County prompting a new campaign aimed at preventing crime.

Stafford Sheriff Charles E. Jett announced the “Take It, Hide It, Lock It, or Lose It” campaign today, urging residents to remove valuable items from their cars or at least hide them from plain view, and then to lock their cars. The campaign comes as larcenies in Stafford have risen by 45 percent in recent months largely due to unlocked cars.

“I am confident that if we all take a few extra minutes and lock our vehicles after hiding or removing our valuables we will go a long way in reducing thefts from autos,” said Jett in a press release.

Authorities said thieves refer to the act of stealing items from an unlocked car as “shopping,” and thieves often steal from cars in multiple neighborhoods in one night.

Earlier this month, Jett noted the problem of thefts from unlocked cars, and said a rise in the rate of larcenies in the county in recent months could be attributed to the unusually warmer temperatures last winter.

The sheriff’s department will begin passing out pamphlets and setting up electronic message boards around Stafford to the word out about the campaign.