The police van crawls through a Mearns street of white washed suburban homes in the blinding sunlight.
Eyes peer from every living room window in this middle-class area of Stonehaven. Afterall, police vans are not often called out to this pleasant pocket of the town.
However, this is no incident response but one of several patrols through the town by Constables Alex Bowser-Riley and Jennifer Greer as part of a week-long operation to tackle acquisitive crime in the area.
Before long the van is making its way up the Netherley Road – turning off down a route so well hidden it could be mistaken for a farm track.
It leads us to the dusty, undulating foundations of what will one day be a portion of the 28-mile Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.
In the Mearns more and more incidents of car theft, housebreaking and burglary are occurring – and the huge building site which will eventually become the new bypass is a potential target.
Constables Bowser-Riley and Greer have been looking for signs of thefts at the works site as well as stolen and abandoned cars. Checks are also carried out for doors and cars which are not secure.
Just days before this particular patrol, thieves stole a Mini Cooper from Duffshill Way in Portlethen.
Within the space of one week in July, four motorbikes, a quad bike and a car were stolen across Aberdeenshire.
The month before, a group of criminals blew up an ATM outside Tesco’s Newtonhill branch and stole about £50,000.
Police said that thieves are increasingly taking their chances on farms or in towns such as Stonehaven, Portlethen and Laurencekirk.
Constable Greer has been with the Kincardine and Mearns community policing team for ten months.
She said: “One of my first calls was actually a housebreaking with three cars that had been taken. I have gone to a few housebreakings since and been involved with incidents where cars have been taken and subsequently found abandoned.
“I have been to quite few calls like that in a short time.”
Colleague Mr Bowser-Riley added: “The bottom line is theft occurs everywhere and it is one of those things that has occurred since time immemorial.
“People have stolen things, people steal things and people will continue to steal things wherever they are. It is not something that is unique to this area.”
He added it can feel “personal” to be a victim of such crimes and it was often “traumatic” for the people targeted by acquisitive crime.
Inspector Finn McPhail, of the Kincardine and Mearns team, added: “One of our massive things at the moment appears to be more in relation to vehicle thefts.
“We do have marked patrols in various areas to try and find areas where the vehicles have been left and dumped. Unfortunately it is quite regular that we will recover the vehicle in various states of damage.
“I’m not saying they always turn up, they don’t, and again they are quite high value ones that have tended to go missing over the years.”
She said half the battle for her officers was “getting people to take responsible for their own property”.
“The majority of issues we have is people aren’t breaking into cars to steal them they’re just opening insecure doors and taking the keys for cars and taking them from your driveway,” Insp McPhail added.
“They are literally on a table as soon as you open the door or the car is nine times out of 10 insecure as well with valuable property in them. People are helping themselves to car keys and driving off with the car.
“It is being made to easy for them. We are trying to change that mind-set of believing that it is okay to leave your house unlocked and leave your car unlocked because unfortunately it isn’t.”