We leave £1.6m of booty for thieves

car crimeMatt Morton/PA Archive/Press Association Images

We spend hours of every week in our cars. We want it to be a little home-from-home, with the radio, the heater, and everything we could possibly need on the journey - from the mobile phone and the sat nav to a handful of change, sunglasses and a change of clothes.

There's just one small thing we're apt to forget: anything we leave in the car is on show, and a potential magnet to thieves.

On show

A survey by Zurich insurance found that we leave a staggering £1.6 million of booty lying around in the car. The survey found that more than half of motorists (51%) regularly leave valuables in their vehicles overnight, with many failing to lock them out of sight in the boot or glove box.

There are some things which may have a fair bit of value, but we can't imagine anyone breaking in to get their hands on. So we are most likely to leave clothes and sunglasses lying around in full view of passers-by.


However, there are other things that clearly we'd be mad to leave on show, which we still take a risk with. Around 20% leave their removable sat nav in the car, 6% a mobile phone, 6% leave cash worth more than £20 and 5% leave iPods and MP3 players .

So why are we so trusting?

Part of the problem is that we underestimate the value of the things we leave in the car. Those who left valuables in their cars overnight estimated their items, were on average, worth around £85. However, data from The British Crime Survey found the average amount stolen from cars was nearer to £200.

However, one of the main problems is that we see our car as an extension of our home, and think it should be just as safe. Of course, clearly we're kidding ourselves. Not only are they surrounded with glass, so a theft is just a quick 'smash and grab' away. There's also a fairly high chance that at some point we will forget to lock up. The British Crime Survey reveals that thieves got access to a car through an unlocked door in more than a third (34%) of incidents of theft from vehicles.

Stay safe

Zurich put together a list to help us keep our belongings safe. They suggest:
  • Don't make your car inviting to thieves - when leaving the car for any period, ensure that no valuables are on show and that if you must leave them in the car make sure they are at least locked in the glove box or boot.
  • Make sure your insurance covers items left in your car and make sure that you can account for them
  • Ensure that your security system is both adequate and fully functional
  • If your car does not have an alarm consider getting one fitted.
  • Consider where you park - try to find spots in well lit areas where people will be able to see anyone interfering with your vehicle.
  • Make sure that you lock every door and window securely and that you never leave your keys in the ignition
It may seem like obvious stuff, but as the statistics show, most of us fall short on at least one of these counts at any given time.
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