RAC: Opportunist thieves having field day with valuables left in cars

02 February 2007
A rise in car thefts has caused the RAC to issue warnings about the risks of not securing valuables. Thefts have rocketed by 23% in the past year, a car theft taking place every 22 seconds, with thieves grabbing the opportunity to smash in side windscreens and swipe valuables left on view, including satellite navigation devices, iPods, laptops, portable DVD players and mobile phones.

More than 40% of motorists leave valuables on show and a further quarter admits to leaving these things unattended for more than 10 minutes at a time, revealed RAC Auto Windscreens. One in 10 cars contain more than £1000 worth of contents, the research also revealed, which is more than twice as much as the £339 average that bedrooms in Britain have in electrical goods.

Michael Fraser, a reformed burglar and presenter of BBC2’s programme To Catch a Thief, explains that “Leaving desirable goods on display puts temptation in the path of opportunist thieves who will simply smash and grab the goods on show. Throwing a coat over expensive belongings or hiding something under the seat is not a deterrent for the determined thief. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to smash a side windscreen and make off with the goods, so people are caught short when they leave goods unattended for only a few minutes.”

RAC Auto Windscreens spokesman Adam Cracknell says the RAC is urging all UK motorists to take better care of their valuables. "Invest in an in-car safe to keep valuables in, or lock them in the boot - sat navs are an easy reach from side window smashes and often contain personal data which could lead the thief to your home – keep them out of sight when not in use.

"Try and park in car parks with security guards or CCTV. If you have a windscreen chip, get it fixed immediately – don’t open the window of opportunity for thieves. And you should also to make a list of valuables, calculate how much they are worth and check that your insurance cover is sufficient and check that the insurance cover is sufficient."

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