Thieves Targeting Christmas Shoppers

AA insurance warns of 'Grinch'-style thieves

1 December 2008

'Grinch'-style thieves are preying on cash-strapped Christmas shoppers by breaking into parked cars and stealing their presents, according to AA Insurance.

"As busy shoppers rush around buying for loved ones, often leaving valuable gifts in the car, we are seeing a noticeable increase in break-in claims," says Simon Douglas, Director of AA Insurance. "We expect claims for thefts from cars to increase by up to 10 per cent over December and January.

"We're urging shoppers to be extra vigilant when doing last minute shopping to make sure they are not inviting thieves, for whom the season is about anything but goodwill.

"By taking extra care about how and where you park and not leaving valuable items on display you can greatly reduce the risk of falling prey to Grinch-style thieves who will not hesitate to steal your Christmas," Simon Douglas adds.

According to Police, property is stolen from cars every 13 seconds in the UK and about a third of all vehicle crime happens in car parks.

Detective Sergeant Matt Jarman, of Thames Valley Police, says: "Car security is in the main common sense. Drivers can find themselves easily distracted, especially if they are trying to manage young children as well as the shopping. So security of the car and personal property in it, is not the number one priority. On occasions, expensive losses can be the result of simple forgetfulness. By working together, car owners and Police can make sure criminals don't have a happy Christmas at our expense."

How to reduce the risk of a car break in

  • Car insurance will generally provide limited cover for personal effects in the car (£250 with AA Insurance, rising to £500 for AA members). Higher levels of cover (from £2,500 to £10,000 or more) are available if you make sure your home insurance covers personal effects outside the home
  • Try to avoid storing purchases in the car as you continue shopping. It is far better to collect items at the end of your outing. Most shops will keep items you have bought for you or even arrange delivery
  • If you do have to leave items in the car, make sure they are secured out of sight. Otherwise you may fail to meet the terms and conditions of your policy by not taking all reasonable steps to protect your car from loss or damage
  • Close the windows and sun roof, lock the doors and activate any security devices when leaving your car
  • Make sure you don't accidentally activate the 'unlock' button on your key transponder as you put your keys in your pocket or handbag
  • Be careful where you park. It's worth paying extra for a decent car park that is well lit, with good security and CCTV
  • Watch out for pay and display – a ticket in your windscreen saying you have bought four hours suggests you won't be back for a long time
  • Try reversing into parking spaces close to a wall so it is difficult for thieves to open the boot or tailgate

Join the discussion in the AA zone


4 December 2008