Car Crime Rising

Car crime is rising and it's having an impact on car insurance premiums. It is one of the main factors that are contributing to the fastest rise in car insurance premiums for 15 years.

Theft of cars is of particular concern to insurers as thieves are targeting expensive marques. And once they are stolen, they are often never found – they may be taken overseas, cloned or dismantled for parts that can fetch large sums of money overseas.

Yet, according to AA Insurance, car owners often leave themselves open to thieves who may be waiting for an unguarded moment to steal them, or opportunist thieves who just see a chance and grasp it.

The weakest link

Simon Douglas, Director of AA Insurance explains:

"Keys are the weakest link in the car theft chain and modern cars can't easily be taken without them. Thieves are getting more determined and violent in their tactics too.

"Government statistics tell us that every day, 50 cars are stolen by burglary of homes or robbery of people to get keys and then steal the car. AA Insurance has seen a 15% increase this year in claims for cars stolen in exactly this way."

Common tactics include:

  • fishing for keys through the letterbox

    So never leave keys on a hall table or a convenient rack by the door

  • breaking in to a house at night or when it is obviously empty

    They might steal your spare keys and wait until returning home before taking the car

  • pickpocketing or stealing handbags to get keys
  • breaking into places where you might have left your keys such as gym lockers or cloakrooms
  • taking keys from desks, jacket pockets or drawers in workplaces
  • violently pulling drivers out of their car when parking

Taking chances

Unfortunately, many drivers still leave keys in their cars even for a moment, for example, popping back into the house, because you have forgotten something; at petrol stations or while feeding a pay and display machine or parking meter.

Always take the keys out, lock the car and put the keys deep in your pocket especially in a busy public place like a car park.

This winter, thieves will once again be looking for drivers who have left their car running on frosty mornings, to warm up. Every year hundreds of cars disappear in this way.

"Every car insurance policy has a clause that negates any claim for theft of a car where the keys were left in the ignition and you won't get a sympathetic hearing if your has disappeared in this way."

But it's not just cars that disappear. Says Simon Douglas: "If you leave your car with anything on display, such as a laptop, Christmas gifts or packages of any sort, sat-nav or even shoes or other clothing you are asking for a brick to be pushed through a window and your property stolen.

"Many insurers are cutting back on the limits of personal property taken in this way and unless you have an extension on your home insurance to cover property away from your home, you will have only yourself to blame."

Quick tips

  • Never, ever leave keys in the car.
  • Park in well lit car parks that ideally, have reasonable security such as CCTV.
  • Fit your car with a Tracker – that will help recover the car if it is stolen.
  • Consider using a simple visual locking equipment, such as a 'crook-lock' device.
  • Lock your car in a garage at night if possible; or shut your gates if you leave it on the drive.
  • Never leave property on display in the car.

    Lock it in the boot or better still, don't leave anything in the car at all.

  • Collect all your purchases at the end of the day.

    (Most retailers will allow this.) Don't make repeated trips to your car filling it up with gifts just waiting to be taken.

  • Reverse into parking spaces.

    It makes it more difficult for thieves to open the boot or tailgate.

 

Last updated: 20 November 2009