BENNINGTON -- Four cars were stolen from the downtown area last week, with three being recovered in the CVS parking lot off Kocher Drive. The fourth stolen vehicle was found overturned in White Creek, N.Y., and on Monday a fifth was reported stolen and has yet to be recovered.

"There is one common factor in all of these thefts," wrote Bennington Police Lt. Lloyd Dean in an email Monday. "The operators have left the keys inside their vehicles. This is an open invitation for anyone to enter your vehicle and drive away with it. In some of these cases the operators left their vehicle running."

Many of the thefts, including Monday's theft of a 2011 Nissan Frontier, were from the Rite Aid parking lot at 194 North St. Dean said police suspect it is the work of the same person, or group.

Nothing was reported stolen from the recovered vehicles.

Bennington Police have offered a number of tips to deter car theft.

* Have a car alarm.

* Keep the car locked, even when leaving it unattended for short periods of time.

* Leave the windows up when the car is not attended.

* Do not leave valuable items inside the car; if you do keep them out of sight.

* Don't leave the keys in the ignition, or leave it to idle unattended.

* Tinted windows can help deter theft, as the thief has to peer in to see if there is anything to steal.

* Do not leave spare keys to the car where thieves can find them easily, such as under the vehicle.

* Park in a well-lit, visible area.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.