A CRIMINAL gang used a hooked cane to steal keys from inside people’s homes and steal three vehicles worth £70,000.

Three houses in a rural cul-de-sac in Loveclough were targeted by four thieves who police believe had travelled from Manchester to steal the vehicles.

A grey Audi A4, a silver Vauxhall Insignia and a black Ford Transit van were taken from outside homes in Penny Lodge Lane after their owners left keys to the vehicles on surfaces inside the front door.

Overnight, as the residents were asleep, the offenders slid a hooked implement through the letterbox and used it to pick the keys up and steal the vehicles.

PC Phil Turner, of Burnley Police, said despite the police doing everything they can to locate the vehicles, it is unlikely they will ever be returned to their owners.

He said: “The four lads involved will have come down in their own car, targeted addresses, and stolen the first three vehicles available to steal.

“We believe they are from Manchester, because that was the direction they were last seen driving in.

“They know what they are doing. This isn’t just a case of joy riders, where the car will be found burnt out a few miles away.

“These organised criminals don’t leave any forensic evidence, and will more than likely already have buyers lined up for the vehicles.

“They might even take the cars straight to a braker’s yard, where they will be stripped down and the parts sold. Especially with the Audi, because the parts are expensive.

“This is what these types of lads do for a living. Where you and I get up and go to work, they go out and steal cars.”

The thefts took place between 10pm on Monday and 6am on Tuesday.

Anyone with information on the incidents should call police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.