The latest figures from the leading stolen vehicle recovery provider, Tracker, act as a stark winter warning to motorists. In the last year more vehicles were stolen with keys in the autumn and winter months compared to spring and summer. On average nearly a third (32 per cent ) were stolen with keys during the darker months, compared to 24 per cent for the rest of the year.
“While the majority of vehicles we recover have been ‘stolen without the keys', often by organised gangs with the skills to bypass sophisticated key-fob security technology, it appears from our data there has been an increase in the number stolen ‘with keys’ in the darker months, probably by the more opportunistic thief,” says Andy Barrs, head of police liaison at Tracker in the UK.
“This can be attributed to a number of factors," he says. "Winter nights are ideal for those willing to act under the cover of darkness, as the chances of getting caught breaking into and entering a home, or simply taking advantage of open doors and windows, are considerably reduced. In addition, harsh frosty mornings present a prime opportunity for criminals, as drivers often leave running cars unattended for a few minutes whilst the windows de-ice. Indeed, it only takes a matter of seconds for the unscrupulous to take advantage of an easy target.”
However, there are precautions motorists can take to minimise the risk.
Tracker’s Winter Security Advice
-Never leave the keys in the ignition, even if just stopping for a brief moment.
Never leave the car running unattended when de-icing.
Always lock and secure the vehicle.
Do not leave belongings on show, lock them in the boot, or take them.
Do not leave technology items on display, such as sat-navs, mobile telephones or DVD
players. Take them or lock them in the boot.
Never leave car documents or spare keys inside the car – this only makes it easier for
thieves to sell it on.
Park in busy or well-lit and attended car parks near CCTV cameras.
If you have a garage, use it to park your car.
At home, do not keep keys in a place where they can be seen or easily accessed from
Consider fitting a tracking device to help police recover the car if it is stolen.
Tracker systems work like an electronic homing device, with a covert transmitter hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle. There is no visible aerial, so the thief will not even know it is there. As an added benefit in the UK market, those who fit a Tracker system could also benefit from a possible discount on their insurance premiums.
Tracker’s technology uses a combination of GSM, VHF and GPS meaning vehicles can be located even if they are underground, in garages or in shipping containers. It says it provides a greater level of protection to its customers than any of its competitors, assisting the police on a daily basis in tackling vehicle theft head on.