Repeated appeals have been issued in recent months by Police Scotland urging the public to ensure their properties, garages and vehicles are locked and secure, and that valuables are kept out of sight of opportunistic thieves.
However, following recent thefts across the North East - in which a number of vehicles and valuables have been stolen from numerous communities - in the majority of cases thieves have succeeded when doors have been left insecure.
Detective Chief Inspector Matt Mackay is appealing once again to the public to take the simple step of locking up to ensure thieves do not stand a chance.
He said: "From ongoing intelligence-led work it is becoming clear that there is a group of criminals emerging who will travel all over the Grampian Region to target your property. The overriding worry for us is that these people do not seem to care who they target, what they take and who they might hurt in the process.
"In their hands - the wrong hands - your vehicle is a lethal weapon, and a weapon which could have fatal consequences if the worst was to happen. Therefore I cannot stress the importance of ensuring your vehicles are locked and secure when unattended, and to make it impossible to gain access to your keys.
"I'd also add that these people are not overcoming elaborate security systems to gain access to your property - in the majority of cases they are simply trying house and car doors until they find one unlocked. They enter your home, pick up your keys within seconds and leave the area quickly and with ease. In some cases vehicles have even been left unattended and unlocked.
"By leaving your property insecure you are essentially, albeit inadvertently, assisting in their crime. Not only does this compromise your own safety, but also compromises the safety of the general public. Failing to lock your door may also negate any Insurance claim, as some insurers may not pay out in these circumstances.
"In the majority of cases there is one very simple solution - and that's to lock up."
DCI Mackay added: "Following on from the Division's success with long-standing Operation Ruby we launched Operation Magpie earlier this year to target acquisitive crime to focus our efforts on ensuring this type of activity is tackled.
"From a policing perspective we are undertaking a huge amount of preventative and in-depth analytical work, and have had countless successes in apprehending individuals responsible for this type of crime.
"I can assure the public that bringing these people to court is at the forefront of our policing priority, but we need the public's help to ensure they don't stand a chance in the first place.
"This is nothing more than a thrill for these opportunistic thieves - but it is a thrill that could sadly, and ultimately, end up costing someone their life. I would urge you to help us ensure that this is never the case."