Driveway car theft on the rise
Car thieves are increasingly targeting cars on driveways by stealing the keys from people’s homes.
Research from the AA shows that there has been a 19% increase in the number of cars stolen this way over the past year although the total number of car thefts has dropped compared to last year.
Every day at least 53 households in England and Wales find their car has been stolen following the burglary of their home to obtain the keys.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says he is alarmed by this trend.
“It’s almost impossible to steal a modern car without first obtaining the keys,” he says.
“Our own insurance claims statistics show a similar trend with an average value of cars taken using stolen keys just over £10,000 – which underlines the increasing determination, patience and ingenuity of thieves targeting upmarket cars, even though the total number of cars stolen is falling.”
Some stolen cars are recovered quickly, particularly if they are fitted with a tracking device, but many just disappear. It’s believed that they are either taken out of the country in freight containers or broken up for the lucrative overseas spares market.
Douglas says that often homeowners make it easy for burglars to get hold of keys.
“A common tactic for thieves is to take keys off hall tables or from convenient key racks near the door, simply by ‘fishing’ for them with a pole through the letterbox.
“Burglars are also adept at opening doors secured with conventional slam-shut barrel locks. Once in the house, they’ll often find the keys left on a table or sideboard and can make a quiet getaway in the stolen vehicle and it could be some time before the family realises that their car has gone after a frantic search for their keys,” he adds.
Protect your car against thieves
There are a number of ways you can protect yourself against car theft, according to AA Insurance.
Firstly, where possible, keep your car in a locked garage when it is not in use.
Also keep your keys in a secure place inside your home, ideally a drawer or in your bedroom at night – not on the hall table or hanging from a convenient hook by the door.
In addition, make sure your ground floor doors and windows are locked and bolted at night. Use a five-lever mortise lock on your front door and make sure it’s locked securely at night.
Whatever you do, don’t leave spare keys in the house if you are going away without your car.
When out and about, carry your car keys in a secure place about your person and not in a handbag, which can easily be taken.
You should also consider improving your car’s security, for example by having a tracker fitted. Even a simple ‘crook-lock’ type device could stop a thief who has the car keys.
When leaving your car, park in public, well-lit car parks particularly where there is good security such as CCTV.
Finally, never leave your car unattended with the keys in it. It will not only make you an easy target for thieves, but insurers may not pay out if your car is stolen in these circumstances.