UAE - Motorists travelling abroad this summer have been warned not to leave their cars in sandy areas near Sharjah International Airport - or at any other undesignated parking spots.

The Sharjah Police have said they would be ramping their campaign against illegal parking this season, as vehicles parked in these areas are prone to theft and can even be used by criminals.

"Criminals would know that a car's owner is out of the country. Last summer, when the police intensified patrols, several gangs targetting abandoned vehicles were arrested," an officer has said.

For this season, the Sharjah Police - in cooperation with the Sharjah Municipality - have launched a three-week campaign to remind the public to park their cars responsibly, especially when they go on months-long vacations.

Lt-Col Ahmed Al Marri, director of the community police department, said the 'Do not disregard your vehicle' campaign would zero in on cars that have been abandoned for long periods of time, most of which are found near the airport.

Once an illegally parked vehicle is identified, an owner would be given a grace period of 24 to 72 hours to move the car, Al Marri said. And if the person fails to comply, the car shall be impounded either by the Sharjah Municipality or the police.

Authorities would also be conducting a background check on the vehicle's owner to determine if he or she is on the wanted list of the criminal investigation department.

30 violators on first day

Lt-Col Jassim Al Suwaidi, head of the community police department and supervisor of the inspection, said that on the first day of the campaign, 30 illegally parked vehicles were spotted.

Warning notices were issued and owners were given three days to transfer their cars to parking zones, Lt-Col Al Suwaidi said.

Saeed Bu Rahaima, director of inspection operations at the Sharjah Municipality, said those that did not have number plates or had 'for sale' banners displayed were also towed away.

Bu Rahaima also said residents must also ensure that their vehicles are free from dust, even if they are away.

"Vehicle owners travelling abroad must designate someone to keep their cars clean throughout their absence," said Bu Rahaima.

He also urged the public to leave their cars in a private parking space and not on the streets or vacant lots near their building.

Residents who spot an abandoned car may file a complaint by calling the municipality at 993.

Heads up, motorists: Things to do before travelling

> Park your car in a private parking space

> Designate a caretaker (a relative or a friend) who can look after your car

> Ensure that your car is kept clean throughout your absence

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