It seems that every evening news bulletin carries a story about a car being stolen from the owner’s home, a shopping centre carpark or service station.
Depending on how badly someone wants your car and the lengths they will go to in order to get it there might be no defence. However, the thief who will steal a handbag out of a shopping trolley or a car with keys in the ignition from alongside the pumps can be thwarted.
Convenience is the greatest impediment to keeping your keys secure. The kitchen bench where everyone who might need the car can find them is the convenient place, but it is also an invitation to theft.
That bench is just a few steps from a door that, if you are most people, is rarely locked. At night when even the dog might be disinterested, a skilled intruder can defeat a basic sliding-door lock in seconds and be in your car and gone before sleepy eyes and a disconnected brain realise there has been an intrusion.
Unloading a car after a shopping trip, even in your garage or driveway, can be risky unless the keys are in someone’s pocket. Keys still in the front door or on a bench are an invitation for the opportunistic thief. Then it’s just a matter of starting the car and fleeing before the owner, struggling with their load of re-usable supermarket bags, recognises the departing automotive noise as coming from their car.
Keys left in the car at a service station are especially inviting. The tank is full, the owner distracted and not able to do anything except put their own life in peril by jumping into the path of the fleeing vehicle. If you have left a child or pet in the car the situation may be much more serious.
Even if you must unbuckle every child or put the lead on the dog and lash him to a sign-post before going in to pay; do it! Never leave a key in a car when you’re not there and especially when someone or something you love is.
Lonely carparks late at night can be scary places. If you park in the station carpark, get there if you can early enough to find a space near the exit and well-lit. Where possible, walk with other commuters and lock the doors as soon as you get into your vehicle.
If you feel you are being followed even when you are in your vehicle, don’t go home. Go to a well-lit area and phone for help or ideally drive to the local police station. Your ‘tail’ will soon disappear once they work out where you are headed.
Some thefts occur following staged ‘accidents’ where a stolen car will drive into the back of the one the thieves have targeted. The natural reaction is to pull over and exchange details.
However, if the area is isolated, there are multiple people in the other vehicle or they are acting in a threatening way, activate your hazard flashers and drive slowly towards a more populated area or seek out the police.
If the impact was a genuine accident the other driver will usually follow, if it is the prelude to a car-jacking your actions will discourage the thieves from continuing their attempt.
Enthusiast Insurance www.enthusiast.com.au would of course prefer that your vehicle wasn’t stolen. However, if a thief is armed or threatening violence, the safest response is to abandon the vehicle, call the police and then Enthusiast. You are entitled automatically to a rental car for up to 14 days following a theft.