The film franchise 'Gone in Sixty Seconds' was supposed to emphasise the skill of the car thieves involved. However, if a new report is anything to go by, they were amateurs, because the typical crook takes just ten seconds to steal a car.
So why is the average time falling, and which cars are most at risk?
FasterThe research for LV= car insurance says the secret of the thieves' success is the fact that they no longer try to force their way into a car and start it without the key: modern technology makes this nigh-on impossible in many cases.
Instead, in two thirds of cases, they just steal the key and drive away. This means that the average time taken to steal a car has fallen to just 10 seconds - from an average of a minute a decade ago.
KeysIt emerged that keys are remarkably poorly guarded. In just under half of thefts, they were taken from the property during a burglary, and the thief carried the loot away in the car.
Other thefts use more creative means to get around security features. 'Lifting' - where the car is loaded onto the back of a truck - now makes up 14% of all car thefts. This is up from 12% last year - and has been on the rise for the last three years. In other instances keys are forcibly taken from individuals while they are with their car - accounting for 6% of all cases where the criminal has the keys.
Models at riskThere is a clear division between opportunistic thefts - such as those after a burglary - and those which are planned. The latter tend to be stolen to order. The thieves that took part in the research said that the most popular cars to be stolen are black Audis, followed by silver and black BMWs. When asked for the least desirable model and colour they named yellow Smart cars.
The research also revealed why so many stolen cars disappear from sight. One criminal said that stripping it back to its parts will often make ten times more for the criminal, while high-end cars many be shipped in lead-lined containers (to stop the tracker working).
So how can you protect your car against theft?Ex-burglar and security expert, Michael Fraser, worked with Confused.com to identify essential steps to protect your car.
- When parking on a road turn the wheels into the kerb and when in a car park turn the wheels towards another car: a car thief will avoid your car as it takes a lot more effort to move the vehicle.
- When parking on a drive always drive in rather than reverse in and turn the wheels.
- Untidy vehicles attract the thieves because they indicate the owner is usually a rush and is likely to have left something of value or forgotten to lock the car. Show that you care about your car.
- New cars have built in chips in the key so without the key it's harder to take the car.
- If a car has flowers painted on it or fluffy toys inside it's not a car that is likely be stolen because it draws the wrong sort of attention and they tend to be cheaper cars. Cars with private plates are also avoided as they are easy to spot on the road.
- All alarms are a deterrent but a thief will know how to bypass them - it depends how much they want that car.
- If you have a driveway you should always use it as the thief has to come closer to you to take the car and they don't like to do that.
- If there are no visible security signs, worn locks and/or the windows are slightly open or the doors not shut properly your car will be an invitation to a thief.