Professional Driver Features

Look after your keys...

 

…and the cars will look after themselves

Everyone feels safe in their own home. It's our kingdom; our castle. But if there's a prestige car sitting outside, it's also an invitation for a car thief to find a way into your personal world. And make off with your car keys.

It's a real problem and a rising problem. The number of cars being stolen with the owner's keys is going up. Tracker, a company specializing in stolen vehicle tracking and recovery systems, reports that the percentage of vehicles it recovered that were stolen using the owner's keys had gone up to 80% in quarter one of 2010, from 74% at the end of last year.

key-theft

Greater London, London itself, and Kent were the worst hit areas, while the BMW X5 and Ranger Rover were the top targets.

Perhaps it's not surprising. The level of anti-theft measures on modern cars is so high that thieves have been required to turn their attentions to other means of gaining entry to a car. Which is why key theft has become so popular. And such a danger to your livelihood.

Adrian Davenport, police liaison manager, South of England & Wales, has this advice: “We urge motorists to look after their car keys at all times, even at home. Don't leave them on display, such as a bowl or hook by the door, as this makes it too tempting for thieves to break in and drive off into the sunset with your car.”

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance adds: “Keys are the weakest link in the car security chain and you should treat them as cash. You wouldn't leave £10,000 or more in banknotes lying around - yet that's exactly what many people seem to do with their car keys.”

Nevertheless, car crime is a reality. So what should you do if you car is stolen? Call the local police station is the first thing you should do and get a crime reference number which you will need for any insurance claim and possibly any road tax refund.

Then call your insurance company for help and advice on your next steps, particularly over a replacement vehicle so you can continue working. Should your car not be recovered and your insurance company pays out on your claim, then you should inform the DVLA when the payment was made to you and the name and address of the insurance company.

Naturally, making a claim is the last resort. It's more important to look after your keys - and you livelihood - in the first place. So don't leave those keys on view or a convenient hook. Because it will also be convenient for someone with light fingers, too.

The top 10 car theft hotspots

1. Greater London and London
2. Essex
3. Greater Manchester and Manchester
4. Kent
5. Surrey
6. South Yorkshire
7. Nottinghamshire
8. Bedfordshire
9. Birmingham
10. Cheshire

Source: Tracker, quarter 1 statistics 2010

 


 

How they get your keys

Real-life claims filed to AA Insurance have included keys stolen:

While the owners were asleep at night

While owners have been in the garden or have 'popped out for five minutes'

Keys left in front door locks

Keys 'fished' through the letter box or through open window fanlights

Homes comprehensively burgled and the family car used as a getaway vehicle

Three cars stolen out of a locked garage following burglary of all the family's keys, while they were on holiday

Keys stolen from workplaces, gym lockers and changing rooms

Keys quietly picked out of unwatched bags or pockets

Smaller numbers stolen by way of threats, muggings or carjackings

Source: The AA

Ralph Morton

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