Two Amazon vans were targeted in a spate of Sussex vehicle thefts.

At least five incidents have been reported across the county between January 30 and February 12.

Four of these took place in Brighton and Hove.

On each occasion, thieves targeted vans which had been left temporarily unattended with the keys still in the ignition.

The first reported instance happened on January 30 in Hampton Place, Brighton. A white Vauxhall Vivaro Amazon van was taken, with the vehicle later being found unattended in Chailey Road, Falmer, about three miles away.

A police dog unit was called in and the hounds were able to track a scent to a nearby address.

There, a 22-year-old man from Brighton and two boys, aged 16 and 17, were arrested on suspicion of theft of a vehicle. The trio have been released on conditional bail until February 28, pending further enquiries.

A second, similar incident was reported on February 4 when a white Vauxhall Vivaro Hermes van was stolen from Landsowne Place in Hove. It was later found unattended and was recovered from St Michael’s Place, Brighton.

The following day a second Amazon van, this time a black Vauxhall Vivaro, was stolen from Richardson Road in Hove. It was found unattended and was recovered from Mortimer Road in Hove a day later.

Police launched enquiries into the theft which led them to the the arrest of a 17-year-old boy from Hove on suspicion of theft of a vehicle. He has been released on conditional bail until March 6, pending further enquiries.

On February 9, a white Ford Transit van containing a large number of tools was stolen from Boundary Road in Hove. The van is yet to be recovered.

And, on February 12, a silver Ford Connect was stolen from Pevensey Road in Eastbourne.

Sussex Police officers tracked down the vehicle and pursued it to Seven Sisters

There, the force say the driver, a 22-year-old local man, "expressed remorse and was given a simple caution for taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent".

"It is unknown at this stage if anything was stolen from either of the vehicles," a Sussex Police spokesman said.

Following this spate of thefts, Inspector James Scott of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit issued advice to van-owners to help them avoid their vehicle being stolen.

He said: “We appreciate people lead busy lives and it may seem like a good idea to leave your vehicle running while you make a quick stop or a delivery, for example.

"But this can present the chance for opportunist thieves to pounce. In turn, this leads to an increase in reports to police, who are required to investigate each individual incident.

"By taking a few simple measures, these incidents can be avoided.

"Remember to lock your vehicle when it’s unattended and keep the keys safe. Wherever possible, do not leave any items of value in your vehicle when it is unattended. And in particular, do not leave any items of value on display.

"Take precautions, remain vigilant, and if you witness any suspicious activity or a crime in action, report it to us."