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43% of drivers have left car keys with a stranger

Drivers are being urged to take action to help prevent vehicle theft as new figures find that 43% of motorists have left their car keys with a stranger in the last year.

Hand holding button on the remote car

43% of British drivers have left their car keys with someone they don’t know in the last year

Although car theft has declined significantly, the figures from a YouGov consumer survey have been published by the automotive industry, government, police and insurance bodies as police figures show reported incidents rose by 8% in the year to March 2016.

In response, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Home Office, Metropolitan Police Service and Thatcham Research have joined forces to publish a 10-point plan to help owners secure their cars to help beat the thieves.

The survey found that in the past 12 months, 43% of British drivers have left their car keys with someone they don’t know, with 71% of them not checking whether the company or individual was a member of an accredited code of practice or other professional standard. In comparison, just 11% said they have trusted their house keys to a stranger.

Sarah Newton, Minister for Safeguarding, Vulnerability and Countering Extremism, said: “With thefts significantly lower than they were 20 years ago and manufacturers using the latest technology to make our cars safer than ever, the public would be forgiven for putting vehicle crime to the back of their minds. But the recent rise in the number of reported crimes is a reminder that determined thieves are still out there and we should remain vigilant.”

The 10-point plan on car security covers:

  1. Think about who you leave your vehicle keys with. Treat them as you do your house keys – do you know the person you are leaving your keys with? Do you trust them?
  2. Check who you are leaving your vehicle keys with. Where possible, check that a company you entrust your keys to is a member of an accredited code of practice or other professional standard such as Motor Codes; the British Parking Association’s Park Mark scheme; or the Car Wash Advisory Service’s WashMark initiative.
  3. Think about where you park your vehicle – is it in a safe place? Well-lit and well-populated areas or car parks with security features such as CCTV, manned barriers or gated entry will give you greater peace of mind.
  4. Check that your vehicle is locked before leaving it. Listen for the locking noise, watch for the lights to flash or mirrors to fold, or simply pull the door handle.
  5. Think about where you leave your spare key. Don’t leave it in your vehicle, and be mindful of how many spares you have and where they are kept.
  6. Check that you haven’t left valuables on display in your vehicle. We all know that this can attract opportunist thieves.
  7. Check that the vehicle’s windows are closed, even if you are only leaving it for a few minutes. Open windows make it all the easier for thieves to gain access.
  8. Think about where you keep your keys at home. Keep them well away from the door or windows and out of sight.
  9. Check that your alarm or immobiliser is enabled when you leave your car. A simple check could save considerable expense and inconvenience later.
  10. Check whether your vehicle has an alarm or immobiliser. If it doesn’t, think about buying an aftermarket alarm, steering wheel lock or other locking device. These are proven to deter thieves.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 14 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie works across the magazine portfolio and updates the company websites with daily news, interviews and road test content.