Car thieves shift their focus

THIEVES are often stealing cars with the owner's keys after performing sneak raids on Queensland homes, RACQ Insurance has warned.

The 2013 RACQ Insurance Car Security Index shows the high-risk locations for vehicle theft and break-ins have become the owner's driveway, garage or residential street.

The research revealed 28% of cars thefts over the past year were from home driveways - an increase of 5% on 2012.

More than 15% of thefts occurred from the street of the owner's residence and 10% from the home garage.

RACQ's executive manager of insurance communications, Mike Sopinski, said car thieves had shifted their attention to vehicles parked at home.

However, the research showed other locations remained a risk for car theft, including streets other than the owner's (12%), public car parks (10%), shopping centre car parks (7%) and rail or bus commuter car parks (7%).

The research also showed that almost 2% of car thefts occurred at service stations.

The car security index findings also showed 19% of Queenslanders surveyed had been the victim of a vehicle theft over the past five years.

"It's becoming harder for thieves to operate in public locations as security has improved with advances in video surveillance and monitoring, increased patrols and a greater public awareness of, and willingness to, immediately report suspicious activity," Mr Sopinski said.

"These factors, combined with overall improvements in car security, have forced thieves to re-think their approach to vehicle theft, with keys now frequently stolen during home break-ins, either as an opportunistic 'find' or as a deliberate theft target."

The RACQ research found one in four householders who experienced a property theft had been the victim of a home intrusion or "sneak raid", where a thief had entered their property while they were at home.

RACQ Insurance tips to prevent your car being stolen include:

  • If your vehicle does not have a factory-fitted engine immobiliser, you need to install an Australian Standards self-arming immobiliser
  • Do not leave valuables in open sight in your car
  • Always lock your vehicle and secure windows when away from your car, even when at home or in the garage
  • Do not hide a spare key in your car, even if you think it is well concealed
  • Park in well-lit, secure areas at night
  • Never leave your engine running while you are away from your car
  • Use off-street parking where available
  • Secure car keys when the vehicle is parked at home or work.

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