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Friday, September 27, 2002
 
How to steal a car (and how to save your own)

For the last few days, I have been helping my local, friendly crime prevention officer. There has been an outbreak of thefts of performance cars in our area (although why anyone would want to own one of these nasty, dangerous, and expensive to run items is beyond my ken). People find their car keys gone, from inside their house, overnight. What's more, they find the car gone, too.

The police have kindly prepared notices for my neighbours and I have been delivering them. The notice encourages people to keep their car keys out of view and to have their cars immobilised. Of course, leaving anything of value in the car, particularly when the item is on view, is also strongly discouraged. But, if you do not want the car pinched while you sleep, keep the keys out of sight, within your house.

This is how the thinking works: modern cars, with their sophisticated alarms, steering locks, and immobilising systems, are getting more and more difficult to steal. Thieves therefore look for ways to steal the keys.

If car keys are on view to anyone outside, hanging on a hook in the hall, say, they are fair game. A thief can break in during the night and take them. However, particularly if the house is alarmed, a rod with a hook on the end, passed through the letterbox, will enable the keys to be removed deftly. And if access is slightly difficult, but not impossible, the thief can use a swivelling, bending rod with a small mechanical grab on it to extract the keys.

Thefts like this are not for joyrides: once the thieves have your keys, it is very likely goodbye to your car forever.

The solution is simple, unless you belong to a bygone age that is more comfortable on a horse than in one of these newfangled motor cars: take your car keys to bed with you.


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