The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) has just gone public with a warning to Australians – stealing keys during residential burglaries is an increasingly common method of stealing cars. Scary, right?
Don’t be caught unawares… read on for our tips on how to prevent car theft at home.
It Can Easily Happen
It’s Saturday afternoon and you’ve spent most of it in the backyard garden. Feeling satisfied and tired, you decide on a quiet night in with a glass of wine and a movie.
You wander inside looking for your purse, so you can go grab your fave Indian food and a bottle of red. But it’s not beside your bed where you left it. Maybe it’s somewhere else.
You check the office, the dining room, and the kitchen. Nope.
You decide to ring your partner who’s out, to see if they moved it. But where’s your phone?
Feeling a bit panicky now you head for the front door, only to find it ajar. The bowl of keys on the side table nearby is empty, and to your horror – your car is not in your carport.
You feel sick to your stomach as it dawns on you… You’ve been robbed, while you were home! It’s an awful experience to know your privacy has been invaded and your valuables taken.
If you’re reading this thinking it sounds like something that wouldn’t happen to you, think again. Situations like this are happening more and more.
So, what’s behind this trend and what can you do to prevent car theft from your home? Let’s explore.
The Facts About Car Theft
According to the NMVTRC, on average, one car is stolen every 12 minutes in our country.
Even more concerning is that its recent research found passenger and light vehicle theft in Australia had increased by 9% in the 12 months to December 2019.
NMVTRC’s data also shows us that:
- Half of all vehicles stolen are taken from home, including the driveway or garage,
- Another 24% are stolen from the street outside the owner’s home, and
- 70% of late model cars are stolen with the owner’s keys.
Further, in up to one third of all home burglaries in major capital cities where a car was stolen, the vehicle keys were the only contents stolen.
Despite the security features built into modern cars, they continue to get stolen and used for profit or short-term use (like other goods burgled). Offenders have just had to get smart about how they do that.
For the majority, this means getting their hands on the keys – even if that’s from your home!
Car Thieves Are Burglars
The data tells us that most car thieves are opportunistic and take advantage of easy targets such as older cars they can hotwire and cars where the keys might be accessible. Easy to reach spots like near a door or window at home.
Yet, the NMVTRC research found only 58% of Australians keep their car keys out of sight.
Clearly, many of us still don’t know the link between car theft and keys being taken from home. Time to fix that.
What Makes You Vulnerable to Car Theft at Home?
Let’s think like a thief for a moment.
You’re on the hunt for a quick, easy steal with minimal fuss. You’re looking for a car parked at a house with a restricted view of the street, to provide cover while you work. These might be trees or other buildings.
You’re looking for a place where there doesn’t seem to be many people about, and you can see easy access to an open door or windows.
All you need is an opportunity to run in and grab the keys (maybe even other valuables) that are within view of the front door. Or keys kept in the usual spots.
When one or more of these conditions line up, it’s as easy as acting quickly. Getting in and out before someone notices you. By the time anyone figures out what’s happened, you’re long gone.
Sound too simple? It is! But only because we make it so for them. The good news is a few small changes can make the world of difference and reduce the likelihood of you having your car stolen from home.
Bookmark our previous blog where we list a ton of no-nonsense tips to protect your car. Then keep reading for other actions we can take to deter thieves…
How to Deter Thieves from Entering Your Home
If you’ve read this far, you’ll already know more than many people about the dangers of having your car taken from your home using your keys. The good news is that now you know, the next steps are simple.
The research tells us the following factors have been found to effectively deter thieves from entering your property:
- Having a dog
No one wants to tangle with a protective pup when they’re trying to guard their pack’s property.
- Working alarm systems
Not just stickers on the front door! Install a home alarm system that meets the standards (AS/NZS 2201.1-2007).
- Obvious signs of activity inside and near the front door
Thieves will be watching for lights, sounds and movement inside the house. They’ll also notice quickly if mail or newspapers are building up outside.
- Protect your windows
Prevent criminals from getting in by closing your windows. Better yet – add key-operated lock sets and security flyscreens to them for added protection.
- Locked doors with security grills
Replace any external doors and frames that aren’t made of solid construction. Keep them locked even when outside or at home away from the door. Fit them with deadlocks that comply with AS 4145.1-2008.
- High visibility of property from road
Keep foliage around the house trimmed to provide clear line of sight to the street and reduce hiding places for thieves.
- Motion activated external security lights (and cameras)
No burglar wants the home owner or neighbour to catch them sneaking around a yard. Once the motion sensors activate, they’re caught in the spotlight.
- Gates and tall fences
Reduce the likelihood of someone getting into your yard and being able to drive away with your car by having a solid, high, lockable gate installed.
Extra steps to secure your home from car thieves
If you can’t take every precaution on the list, the following simple actions can make a big difference.
You might even like to take the Neighbourhood Watch quiz: How safe is your place?
- Keep the garage locked
We love that you’re so trusting. But stop it.
- Get to know neighbours
An extra set of eyes will help alert you to any suspicious activity.
- Maintain appearances
Going away? Get someone to collect mail, remove rubbish bins, etc.
- Keep valuables out of sight
Not just your keys. Thieves will be extra tempted by valuables they can see in plain view in your house and car.
- Been burgled? Change locks or fit extras
Don’t take any risks; if a burglar took your keys, they might return and take advantage of this again.
- Be a good neighbour
Be vigilant and keep an eye out around you, and report any suspicious activity by contacting Policelink on 131 444.
Reconsider what info you share online
Heading off on a long-awaited girls’ weekend? Be careful about sharing info online that makes it clear your house will be empty (and your car parked in your garage) for an extended period.
You can’t be too careful about who knows where you are. Many thieves are adept at using social media to ‘scope out’ unoccupied premises.
Heading out with the fam for the day? Ask yourself if you’re better off sharing that when back home (or just share it privately with close friends and family).
Where to Keep Your Car Keys at Home to Prevent Car Theft
Now you know how to keep your property safe, here’s how to keep your keys out of the hands of car thieves.
- Store your keys out of view and away from external doors and windows
Avoid keeping your keys in common places such as a front door key rack, kitchen key bowl or in sight in the master bedroom, living room or office. If you need to keep them there, invest in a safe to store valuables (and spare car keys in) while you’re not at home.
- No safe? Think creatively
If you don’t want to buy a safe, think about somewhere that’s accessible to you but not obvious to anyone else. You know your home’s nooks and crannies best. Make sure you hide your keys well and visitors aren’t privy to the positioning.
- Take your keys with you if you go out
Whether you’re taking your car or planning to leave it at home, don’t make it easy for someone to take at a later time. Make your keys a part of your going out checklist whether you need them or not.
- Never leave spare house and car keys in the car
It’s tempting to leave your car keys in the ignition if it’s parked in your garage, or spare house keys in your glovebox. However, this just makes life easy for thieves.
- Don’t label your keys with your name or address
If you need to label your keys, use your mobile number or driver’s licence instead but beware of people fishing for details if they call you.
Have the Right Cover
Did you know that car insurance companies factor the safety and security of your car into their insurance premium calculations?
More importantly, incorporating a range of anti-theft measures into your car ownership gives you peace of mind. You know you’ve done everything you can to avoid having your car stolen and house burgled.
Talk to us about our affordable insurance options for those times when the worst happens.
And if you’re unlucky and your car is stolen, we’ve covered what to do next in this article.
Over to You – How to Prevent Car Theft at Home
Have you ever had your car keys and car stolen from home? What measures did you take to stay safe? Share any tips on how to prevent car theft at home via our Facebook Page.