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Friday 10 September 2010

Car thefts

In the last month there have been a number of key and car theft incidents within the Eastern area of Cheshire Police, with the exception of Nantwich at present.
Due to advances in vehicle technology in the last decade it is extremely difficult for an offender to steal a car without having the key available.  As such, over recent years it has been more common/necessary for individuals involved in car theft to have to obtain the car keys for a vehicle prior to taking it. 
In general there are two common ways that would be offenders can obtain car keys from a property with minimal effort on their part. 
The first way is by gaining entry via insecure doors and windows, locating the car keys and taking the householders vehicle.  Over the last year (and in particular during the summer months) I have sent several emails highlighting the importance of ensuring that doors and windows are kept secure to prevent sneak in burglaries.  It is useful to highlight that insecure doors and windows can also provide easy access to your car keys, with an offender being able to enter a property and take them in a matter of minutes.
The second way is via a method known as 'hook and cane'.  This is a method whereby offenders place a rod through the letter box (either magnetic or with a lifting device on the end such as a hook) to hook car keys in order to steal a vehicle.
In general most of us are creatures of habit and tend to off load the items we have about ourselves shortly after entering the house.  Most of us will place our handbags, wallets, phones and car keys in the same convenient place and such places are often located near to the door such as on a cabinet, on a table or handbags (with car keys in) are often hung on a coat hook in the porch or placed over the stair bannister.  Unfortunately, this also proves to be 'convenient' for would be offenders.  In instances such as this, sneak in burglars can locate a handbag (including car keys) and car keys quite quickly with minimal effort and making minimal noise.  In terms of 'hook and cane' incidents, keys that are left on cabinets and tables next to the door (where they are in reach of the letter box) provide an easy target for offenders.
This type of crime is often quite organised and involves out of town groups targeting an area/county.  Cheshire is in general quite an affluent county, with good access links (including several motorways) and is neighboured by two large cities (Manchester & Liverpool) and these factors can appeal to car thieves.
In order to minimise the chances of becoming a victim of this type of crime please follow a few simple crime prevention methods wherever possible:
1.) Never leave car keys openly on display and refrain from leaving them on tables and cabinet that are located near to your letter box
2.) Try to consider where you leave your car keys and other valuable if it is a fairly generic location consider getting into the habit of leaving them in a different, more secure/out of sight place.  This way you will still have a standard place for your keys/valuables but they will not be so accessible.
3.) Consider installing a letter box visor guard.  These guards are a simple way to stop anyone being able to use the 'hook and cane' method at your property.  They are also useful as they stop would be thieves from reaching their hand through the letter box and unlocking your door from the inside and also restricts the view of anyone looking through the letter box so they are unable to evaluate your property from this point.
4.) Sensor activated security lighting is a good idea as it prevents a thief from being able to operate in darkness and increases the chances of their behaviour being observed by residents, neighbours or passers by.
5.)If you have a garage consider using it.

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