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Personal Vehicle

How are UK thieves stealing possessions from vehicles?

Friday, 13 May 2016 GMT
Author: Staveley Head

Even without leaving your phone or tablet in a car, there’s still plenty of valuables to be had from your car. Even airbags are a decent prize, so it’s important to make sure you take all the necessary precautions.

Luckily modern security technology has made breaking into cars much more difficult over the years. There’s been a steady decline in the number of thefts from vehicles since 1993. Having said that, a good many of us are being a bit too reliant. According to the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW):

Your car is most likely to be broken into on a week night when it’s parked on the street outside your home, with the offender gaining access through an unlocked door. 

That’s right. Whereas back in 2005/06, most thefts from cars came after a broken window, now 54% of the time it’s due to something as simple as an unlocked door. 

How are vehicles broken into to steal possessions?

The chart below details how tactics have changed over time (these refer solely to successful thefts of possessions from vehicles):

Going after cars with an unlocked door is by far the preferred method nowadays. Relying on the absent mindedness of the public clearly pays better dividends than trying to smash car windows and deal with alarms.

So, if you’re concerned about people getting after your valuables in your car, your best defence is to make sure you lock up!

How are people protecting their cars?

The chart above shows us what security methods were employed by people who had something stolen from their car and it tells us something interesting.

The previous chart showed us that more and more people were being robbed thanks to unlocked doors, but that’s despite an increasing number of vehicles employing central locking! That means that out of all of the vehicles broken into in the year ending March 2015, 54% were left unlocked despite 88% of them employing central locking.

This goes to show that as effective as security technology can be, its biggest drawback is often the human factor.

When are possessions stolen from vehicles?

Unsurprisingly, thieves much prefer to strike at night than during the day. The cover of darkness along with most people being tucked up in bed gives robbers the perfect opportunity to strike – especially with unlocked cars.

There’s not much you can do about this unless you plan on sleeping in your car. The best option, along with remembering to lock up, is to bring any valuables inside with you. Not so simple for your airbags and sound system of course, but you can be sure a tablet on the backseat will have a thief pulling on the door handle.


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