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 in the ignition during the darker months, compared to 24 per cent for the rest of the year.
“Whilst 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 that 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. 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 plenty of precautions motorists can take to minimise the risk, and save from the heartache and expense if their car is stolen.”
Tracker’s winter security advice
Never leave the keys in the ignition, even if you are just stopping for a brief moment.
Never leave your car running unattended when de-icing.
Always lock and secure your vehicle.
Do not leave belongings on show, lock them in the boot or take them with you.
Do not leave technology items on display, such as sat-navs, mobile telephones or DVD players. Take them with you or lock them in the boot.
Never leave car documents or spare keys inside the car as this only makes it easier for thieves to sell it on.
Park in busy or well-lit and attended car parks near CCTV cameras.
At home, do not keep keys in a place where they can be seen or easily accessed from outside.
Consider fitting a tracking device to help police recover your 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.