Increasing car-theft: the key causes

By EUGENE HERBERT
Group MD, RAC Group

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – Having recently spent several days driving in the US and witnessed the rather relaxed and carefree approach people have toward driving, it came as no surprise that they have “problems”… as highlighted hereinafter..

No South African driver would dream of leaving keys in the vehicle – stupid/mad/bonkers and other similar adjectives would be appropriate. That said, it’s interesting to see how “other people” see driving.

ONE IN EIGHT ARE ‘FREEBIES’

Such as those in America where, in 2015, a vehicle theft was reported every 45 seconds. One with the ignition key/remote fob left in the car was reported every 6.5 minutes, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

In fact, one out of every eight thefts was a ‘freebie’ for the thief, the vehicle’s key or fob there for the taking.

The bureau says car theft is a growing problem. Thefts in 2015 (57 096) were up by 22% over the previous year. Over the past three years growth has been 31%.

Since many people won’t admit leaving their vehicle unlocked, key or fob inside, the real number for such thefts may be considerably higher than the reported data.

‘AVOID COMPLACENCY – AND POCKET YOUR KEYS’

NICB president and CEO Joe Wehrle is on record as saying: “Anti-theft technology has had a tremendous effect on reducing theft over the past 25 years but not locking won’t help.

“Complacency can lead to a huge financial loss and great inconvenience for the vehicle owner. Leaving a vehicle unlocked or with the key or fob inside gives a thief the opportunity to take not only the car but the owner’s possessions.

“It can also provide access to your personal information and address if the registration is left in the facia box.”

Law enforcement agencies in the US have reported incidents in which cars have been stolen, driven to their owner’s home, the house robbed, before the owner knew the car was missing.

As a result, the NICB advises drivers to:

  • Lock your vehicle, set the alarm, take all keys/fobs
  • Don’t leave the garage door-opener in the vehicle
  • Take a cellphone image of the registration/other papers and leave the originals filed at home
  • Never leave a car unlocked and running to ‘warm-up’ or while stopping for a quick coffee. It only takes a moment for an opportunistic thief to jump in and drive away.

So, in South Africa, keep your keys safe and remember that here at home – because of jamming – make sure your vehicle is really locked before you walk away from it.

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