What is it like to be a victim of vehicle crime?

 

A local resident speaks about their experience of vehicle crime to raise awareness around this kind of crime and how something as simple as a jacket left on a seat can make your car a target.

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Can you start by giving me a brief outline of what happened?

I was going into town for dinner and parked on a busy road at around quarter past eight in the evening.  I came back around nine o’clock and didn’t realise anything was wrong at first.  It was only when I got back into the car that I saw the broken glass and realised the front passenger window had been smashed. My jacket and sports bag had been taken and when I looked into my glove compartment, I realised my satnav was also gone.

 

How did you leave your car?

I’m pretty careful about leaving things in my car.  I always leave my satnav in my glove compartment and I usually leave anything else in the boot of my car.  The only reason I didn’t this time is because I was parked very close to the car behind me and couldn’t open the boot.  I didn’t think it would matter too much as it was a busy road, I wasn’t going to be gone for long and it was still early.  I pushed my sports bag under the front seat and just left my jacket on the seat.  I didn’t think they’d be the kind of thing anyone would try and steal – there was nothing valuable in either of them.

 

Why do you think your car was targeted?

I think it was someone just walking down the street, saw the jacket, and took the opportunity given to them.  It’s possible they also realised that there was a satnav in the car as it leaves marks on the windscreen.  The street was very busy, but I suppose it just needs a few seconds when no-one is around.  Another car a little further down the road also had its window smashed.

 

What impact has this had on you?

It was completely unexpected and at the time I was quite shocked.  The damage to the window is covered by my insurance, but I still have to pay the excess on it.  Plus, I’ve lost two days work as I need my car to be able to commute.  I just bought my satnav and although it’s also covered by insurance, the excess means it isn’t worth claiming for.  More concerning is that my home address is on my satnav, so I’ve warned my housemates and have double checked our home security – just in case.  I also had some paperwork for my new job in my sports bag.  Luckily I hadn’t filled it in yet, so it didn’t have my bank details or national insurance number on it.  However, whoever took my bag now knows my name, home address, my job description, salary and where I work.  I always shred all personal documentation before I throw it away, so I am not too worried about identity fraud, but I am still concerned that someone has this information about me.

 

Do you have any advice for other people?

Don’t make the same mistake I did and assume that this is something that won’t happen to you.  I’ve lived in Cambridge for 15 years and never had this happen before.  It’s just bad luck – being in the wrong place at the wrong time – but it’s worth being aware that it’s always a possibility and taking a minute to make sure that your car is safe.

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Follow the 6 steps below to minimise the risk of vehicle crime:

  • Remove all valuables from sight. Ideally take them with you, if not put them in the boot.  Don’t leave bags under seats.  Thieves know where to look and it’s a sign that there might be something valuable in it.
  • Remove signs of valuables being in your car. Hide charger cables for your phone or satnav as well as the cradles and the marks they leave.
  • Remove all jackets, clothing and bags. Even if you know nothing of value is inside, a thief doesn’t.
  • Check that you have locked your car properly by testing the door handle. We regularly receive reports of thefts from insecure vehicles.
  • Make your parking spaces secure. Report faulty streetlights. If you have a designated parking space consider installing CCTV or motion sensor lighting.
  • Protect your valuables. Marking your valuables with easily identifiable information and registering them on www.imobilise.com will make them easier to identify if they are stolen.
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