He told members of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) that they were working with hotels to offer security advice in a bid to combat the problem.

Senior members of the FSB from Cambridgeshire met Mr Ablewhite at the police headquarters in Huntingdon to discuss crime issues affecting 35,000 local small businesses including cybercrime, theft from vans and rural crime.

Mr Ablewhite said: "I was very pleased that FSB came to see me. Small businesses are the life blood of the Cambridgeshire economy and we do not underestimate what a devastating effect crime can have on them.

"I would encourage all small businesses to report crime against them and to protect themselves from crime as far as possible."

Mr Ablewhite said: "For instance, a perennial crime is an overnight one where individuals who have travelled to our county for work purposes are having tools stolen from vans left unattended in the hotel car parks where they are staying.

"To counter this issue we are working with local hotels to provide security advice, and certainly, as this and other issues illustrate, it is when businesses do their upmost to protect themselves and their customers from any and every form of crime that we stand the greatest chance of success, the greatest chance of keeping ourselves safe."

He added: "We value the work of FSB in raising awareness of the issues such as this and how to protect themselves against being victims of cybercrime."

FSB area leader Malcolm Lyons, from Huntingdon, said: "We had very positive discussion with Mr Ablewhite and were able to pass on lots of tips to our members about what they should do to avoid being victims of crime.

"We also looked at how closely we could work in partnership with the constabulary to help to get out messages to small businesses about contributing to police intelligence and how they can avoid being victims in the first place."

Graham Buck, former FSB regional chairman, was at the meeting with area leaders Alan Todd and Malcolm Lyons, together with Doug Balderson from Peterborough. Rebecca Tinsley, police cyber security advisor, and Superintendent Laura Hunt took part.

Businesses in Cambridgeshire are encouraged to report crimes using the following website https://www.cambs.police.uk/report/Report.

Cybercrime should be reported using the Action Fraud website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.