GARDAI have warned people attending sporting venues across North Cork not to allow their parked vehicles to become "soft targets" for opportunist thieves.
The warning follows a spate of thefts from cars left unattended at sporting events across the region.
People attending matches, charity events and even paying their respects to deceased loved ones have all been targeted.
The latest trend in these incidents has seen multiple break-ins at the same location at the one time.
The most recent incident took place last Sunday between 2pm and 3pm at Ballyclough, Kilworth when three cars were broken into as their owners took part in a charity cycle. Thieves broke windows of the cars and stole a number of items.
Last Tuesday week 10 cars were broken into between 8.15pm and 8.45pm at the Mourneabbey GAA grounds near Mallow as their owners watched a match.
It is believed the same gang were behind a similar incident at the Rockmount Soccer Club in Whitechurch on the same evening during which five cars were broken into and items stolen.
A garda spokesman said these mirrored a series of other incidents that took place across the region in the lead up to summer months.
These included an incident outside the Loreto Sports Hall in Fermoy when five cars were broken into as their owners played indoor soccer.
Similar thefts have taken place at other venues across the region including GAA clubs in Kildorrery and Killavullen and Mallow Golf Club.
A garda spokesman said that as the winter months approach sporting venues where cars may be parked up for a long time can become easy targets for mobile gangs.
"During the summer months thieves tend to target beaches and other beauty spots where people leave their cars unattended, often in remote places, for long periods of time. There had also been incidents outside churches and graveyards," he said.
"It would appear that this focus seems to shift to sporting venues over the winter months, particularly those in rural areas that may not have CCTV coverage," he added.
The spokesman went on to say that car owners can play an important role in deterring thieves by not leaving valuable items on display in their unattended vehicles.
"We have noticed that when incidents have taken place vehicles that do not have valuable items on clear display in them tend to remain untouched," he said.
"Therefore, we would strongly advise people to ensure their vehicles are properly secured and they remove any items of value from sight. By taking these simple precautions they reduce their chances of becoming soft targets for opportunist thieves," he added.