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Cracking Car Crime

Drivers are worried car crime will rocket at Christmas as the country falls into recession and unemployment rises.

A new survey from Autoglass® reveals that, despite car crime being at an all time low, three out of five (59%) drivers are scared car crime will rocket in the run up to Christmas, as the country falls into recession and unemployment rises.

With a third (30%) of motorists having had valuable items stolen from the front seats or in the boot, Christmas shopping and gifts could make easy pickings for thieves looking to do a quick smash and grab.

A car thief breaking into a car by smashing the driver's window

Regional hotspots

Motorists are more worried about car crime depending on where they live.  The Autoglass® survey has identified regional hotspots with drivers in Wales (64%) and the North East (63%) being the most anxious about a surge in vehicle crime.  Motorists in the East Midlands (54%) are the least worried.

Home office braced for an increase in crime

And motorists are not alone in their concerns. According to a leaked document, the Home Office is already bracing itself for an increase in crime during the economic slowdown¹ as the Prime Minister admits we face recession and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research predicts the jobless total will reach 2million by Christmas.

With official statistics showing car crime rising and peaking around the last recession in 1990-92, spiking at 4.3m² in 1993 compared to 1.6m³ today, drivers' fears of a Christmas, or indeed longer term credit-crunch-car-crimewave, could be well founded.

Motorists foot the car crime bill

The Autoglass® research supports the current crime figures, which are at record lows, with only one in 10 motorists saying they have experienced vehicle crime in the last 12 months.  However of these only 17% claimed on their insurance policy, suggesting more than 80% are footing the bill themselves.

The key items still being stolen are sat navs, mobile phones, ipods and CDs - perfect targets for thieves as the country's credit crunch deepens, as they are easy to grab, hide and then sell on.

Be vigilant

Reformed car thief Richard Taylor is an associate pastor at the Renewal Christian Centre in Birmingham and a presenter on BBC's 'To Catch a Thief'.  He said:  

"During the last recession stealing from cars was an easy way to make a bit of money.  These days of course, cars are much harder to break into, so smash and grab is very much the order of the day.  Christmas is a time of year when thieves might want to make a bit extra, so motorists need to be even more vigilant to ensure their cars are not an easy target for someone looking to make a fast few quid."

To help stop this potential rise in crime Autoglass® is advising motorists to remember to remove all valuables and personal possessions when they leave their vehicles, especially with Christmas just a few weeks away.   Nigel Doggett, managing director of Autoglass®, said:

"Vehicle crime is now at its lowest levels since the British Crime Survey began recording results in 1981 and by reminding motorists to take sensible precautions when leaving their vehicle we hope not to mirror the increases during the last recession.

"Christmas is a time when drivers can help make their car less attractive to a thief looking to do a quick smash and grab by ensuring that no shopping bags and valuables, or evidence of valuables, are in view.  If all personal possessions are removed from the car then in the event of a break in, there is very little for the thief to steal."


¹ A letter from the Home Secretary was leaked to the media on 1st September 08 suggesting that the economic downturn will lead to rising crime levels and Tom McNulty (minister of state for crime and policing) said it was clear crime 'may well go up' during the economic slowdown.
² Home Office Crime in England and Wales 2007/08 - A summary of the main findings.
³ Home Office Crime in England and Wales 2007/08 - A summary of the main findings.

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