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Crime Prevention: Practical advice from Essex Police

Essex Police

Ray Stannard - Maldon Crime Reduction Officer

By just using a bit of common sense and taking simple precautions you can reduce the risk that your leased car will be targeted by thieves and vandals.

Always secure your car and keep it locked. Even if you leave your car for just a moment it only takes a few seconds for a thief to act - close windows and sun roofs.
Never ever leave your keys in your ignition, not when you are paying for petrol, not even when your car is in your own garage - if your car is stolen when keys are in the ignition there is virtually no chance your insurance company will pay out.

Home office crime reduction for cars

Never leave items on display inside your car. Remember "Car thieves like to window shop as well"
Don't leave your wallet or purse or change in the centre console, don't put mobile phones on display to tempt thieves. It's best not to leave some items in your car at all just in case - after all, thieves know all the hiding places and will look under the seat and in the glove compartment. So don't leave cheque books, credit cards, vehicle documents, drivers licence, passports or personal mail with your address or other personal details in your car.

Mobile phones and loose change make a tempting target.

Are the pockets empty or full of credit cards - there is only one way for a thief to find out!

Bags, brief cases, cameras, electronic gizmos and especially lap top computers should be locked in the boot out of sight. This is especially true of laptop computers, more of them are stolen from cars than any other place. They are currency for criminals. Satellite Navigation displays are now also a popular target.
Think! What might be of value to a thief? Hide it away or take it with you.

You must also hide coats and jackets in the boot. You may know that your coat is an old coat with nothing in the pockets, but a thief won't know that until he has broken in to have a look - and they will smash and grab on the off-chance. A broken window will cost you your insurance excess and no claims bonus even if nothing of value is stolen.

You should store any items that you are going to store before you reach your destination. Thieves watch car parks and will know if you have hidden your laptop or sat-nav in the boot or glove compartment. When entering or exiting your car, be vigilant, make sure nobody is lurking about or watching.

Don't get complacent about items in your car. It's not just car parks where cars are broken into - 63% of all theft of and from vehicles occurs when they are parked outside the home.

Try to park in a well lit area - you may park in the daytime, but when you return to your car it may be dark. Well lit areas deter car thieves and good lighting will also benefit your personal safety.

Park Mark
Look for the 'Park Mark' for Police approved safe parking places.
When choosing a car park look for the 'Park Mark' (shown right) for car parks that have been approved as safe.

Always give yourself plenty of space when parking. Assume that all other drivers are not quite as good as you are and give them plenty of room to manoeuvre.

Always use consideration when parking. Don't block people in or obstruct entrances exits and driveways. Try to be generous and courteous - after all, if you take care not to upset people you are less likely to have your car become the target of vandalism.

  • Always lock your car and secure windows and sun roof.
  • Don't leave you car unattended with keys in the ignition.
  • Don't keep items in the car if you don't need them there. i.e. passports.
  • Keep valuables well hidden in the boot.
  • Keep not-so-valuables hidden in the boot.
  • Try to park in well lit areas with CCTV -favour Park Mark car parks.
  • Be considerate and courteous to other drivers and pedestrians.

Keep it safe, keep it hidden, keep it locked!

Ray Stannard is Crime Reduction Officer for the area covered by Maldon District Council and South Woodham Police Section. [link]

Update: During 2005, theft of satellite navigation equipment rose by 80%.

A holder is a dead give-away that you own a sat-nav system and that it is probably somewhere in your car.

The latest sat-nav equipment is small and fits in the palm of your hand, it is very easy to steal and has become currency for criminals.

You may think your Sat-Nav is safe, but a criminal knows that there are only so many hiding places in a car - criminals know them all. A holder such as the one pictured right are a dead give-away that you own a Sat-Nav Unit. Is it in the glove-box, or under the seat? It only takes a few seconds for a thief to find out. Even if you took the unit with you, you still have to deal with a smashed window.

Although large numbers of these units are stolen from cars on people's driveways, thief's have been known to wait at the entrances of car parks. they can see who has Sat-Nav and can even see where you hide it!

Our advice is to remove your Sat-Nav AND it's holder from your dashboard before you reach your final destination. Make sure nobody is watching before you hide it. Don't leave it in your car overnight.

Update: 2009 - Our friends at Essex Police have informed us that the latest trick used by tea-leaves is to us Bluetooth to scan an area for devices. They can for example sit an area and constantly scan for new devices, if all of a sudden a laptop appears on their list, and they just saw you pull up a few yards away, they will be looking to see if you have a laptop under your arm, if not, there is a fair chance that you left it in your car... all they have to do is break a window and it's theirs.

So turn off Blue tooth devices when not in use and change settings so that your devices are named in such a way as not to let thieves know what they are, and as always, avoid leaving valuables in your car.


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This page was last updated on Wed, 12 October, 2011
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