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Don't worry; I'm not going to go into the full details. This isn't a thieves' manual. It's just so that you can read and actually realise the many methods that vehicle thieves use to get into the car (or van - Yes! You as well) in order to steal it. and the ways they get the vehicle started in order to drive off with it.
You may think you know them all. You may think that you are fully aware of them and that your vehicle is safe. And you can carry on thinking that until the day it goes! By then, it's too late.
And I will post later about ways of stopping thieves (and some of them will be obvious when you see how they are stolen) - so don't fret. While there may be, according to the late Johnny Nash, "More Questions Than Answers", not in this case!
So, let me count the ways.
1. Forced Ignition (14% of thefts)
Gaining access to the ignition switch having broken the ignition/steering lock, or quite simply hot-wiring. Now, this is mainly used on older cars because newer models now have sophisticated immobiliser systems fitted as standards. If you don't have one - fit one now!
2. Pushed / Towed away (2%)
Does exactly what it says in the tin! Hitching the car to a tow truck usually under the guise of a parking violation, or simply breaking into the car, releasing the handbrake and pushing it away. Nobody suspects anyone pushing a car because they think they've run out of petrol, and can often help! Steering lock on, turning wheels into the kerb pre-lock and leaving automatics in gear are ways to prevent this method.
3. Forgery or fraud (5%)
Getting more popular, this is usually carried out when a car is sold privately (or even at garages) by using a forged or stolen banker's draft, given over in the evening or on a Friday or a weekend when banks are shut and the recipient can't check that it is genuine. Do you really need me to tell you how to prevent this?
4. Keys stolen in a burglary (37%)
In at Number One! Especially used with higher value cars and their plethora of anti-theft devices, like immobilisers. Burglary can be the usual method at night, just to get the car keys or maybe to use the car to get away with their ill-gotten gains. (By usual method I mean actually breaking in etc). Mind you, other methods like 'key fishing' through a letterbox to get keys left by the front door is very popular amongst the burglaratti! Magnets and hooks are usually used in this method.
5. Keys stolen in a robbery (5%)
Face to face theft, at your front door, in your car as you pull up, in your house or in your car in traffic (also known as carjacking). Very traumatic for the victims, but to be honest, best to give up the keys when this happens, because people that do this don't mess about!
6. Keys left in the car (18%)
18%? Are you stupid? There are loads of opportunist thieves out there, some of them don't even know it. But if you leave the keys in the car whilst buying petrol, or popping in the shop, you are asking for trouble! And if you leave the car running whilst defrosting the windscreen in winter and pop back in to get your gloves, then more fool you! This also happens when you get bumped a little in your car, you get out to see what's happened, leave the keys in, the other driver jumps in and you have no car!
7. Taking without consent (7%)
Not something you can really do much aboiut because this is when a friend, work colleague or relative (usually one of your kids) 'borrows' the car for a drive without you knowing. This is usually only discovered if there's an accident or an incident involving the car not being returned before the owner finds out!
8. Other key-related crime (12%)
Again using stolen keys but this time the identity of the driver or the car itself is stolen, and once again usually involves the higher value end of the vehicle market. A crime lord is hardly going to go to all the trouble of getting the VIN number, approach a dealer and order a key for an Austin Allegro, is he? Most dealerships will ask to see car registration documents for proof of ownership - but some may not!
In a recent Crime Prevention Survey, it was discovered that 9,000 cars were stolen in the UK in 36 days at the start of this year - 33% when vehicles were away from the home and 4% by opportunist thieves. This means that 3,400 thefts a year could be prevented by people being more aware of how they can stop their cars and vans being stolen.
How can you prevent these crimes happening to you? Some ways are obvious, but more later!