Car thieves exploit naive car owners

Ben Gribbin 10 August 2018 NEWS

New research shows leaving your car even for just a few minutes could cost you dearly.

One-third of drivers admitted to leaving their car unattended and unlocked on occasion, new research commissioned by insurer Allianz Australia shows. More than two-thirds of motorists confessed they stash valuable items in their car, making an effort to place them out of site.

Allianz Australia chief market manager Nick Adams said, as a nation Australians are overly optimistic when it comes to theft.

“Australians are a car­loving nation, with more than 18.8 million vehicles on the road at last count. However, we also tend to be quite optimistic in nature and don’t like to think that something could go wrong with one of our prized possessions,” Adams noted.

The research found that the average claim value was a whopping $2,400.

Laws covering the securing of a motor vehicle

In Queensland and Victoria, drivers are legally required to lock their car if they are going to move more than three metres away from it. Also, windows cannot be rolled down more than 50mm when unattended. Car owners could face up to a $40 fine in Queensland and a $117 ticket in Victoria if caught.

Car insurance could be invalidated if vehicle isn't secured

In addition to these little known laws, you could find your insurance coverage is void or heavily diminished if it were established you had not taken reasonable steps to protect your vehicle.

Reasonable steps are defined as:

  • Locking the vehicle.
  • Removing the keys from the vehicle when there's no one in the car.
  • Stowing away valuable items.
  • Rolling up the windows when parked or unattended.

Tests are carried out by the police upon vehicle recovery to establish the method of theft.

The wording of policy documents allows for the insurance claim to be declined or cancelled in such a case. Make sure you're familiar with your chosen insurer's terms.

It's therefore absolutely imperative you take every reasonable precaution to protect your vehicle and property.

Car security precautions and tips

Sadly, in today’s modern world, no one is immune to car theft. It can take just a few seconds for a casual crook to scope out your car, pour through your stuff and make off with your property. Leaving the doors unlocked and valuables on show only makes your car a more appealing target.

Allianz insurance recommends:

  • Leave nothing valuable in your car. Remove your possessions from the car.
  • Lock valuables out of sight. If you absolutely must leave property in the car, place it out of sight and lock it securely in your glove box or boot.
  • Find that you forget to lock your car? Stick a little reminder on your driver’s door. Some cars with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay let you set a notification that’s triggered when you get out of the car, too!
  • Never leave your car running, especially if it is unlocked. This may be tempting if you’re only popping into a shop or to a cash machine for two minutes, but don’t do it! In some states and territories, it may also be illegal to leave your motor vehicle open with the keys in the ignition. Additionally, remember that insurers review each claim on an individual basis. Leaving the doors open or the ignition key in could affect the outcome of your claim.
  • Observe parking and driving road rules.
  • Park in well-lit areas, covered by CCTV if possible. Try to stay away from parking down quiet, unlit backstreets.

Australia vehicle crime hotspots

We’ve published a report covering Australia's vehicle crime hotspots. In addition to detailing specific areas of car crime, the guide details some of the most stolen vehicle makes and models.

In car news

Picture: Shutterstock

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