Aviva is warning drivers to take extra care when leaving their vehicles during the darker winter months. Analysis carried out by the insurer reveals four out of five vehicle-related thefts in England and Wales happen during the hours of darkness.
In tandem with these figures, Aviva data reveals motor theft claims in 2019 were higher during October to December when daylight hours were shorter. Compared to the monthly average for 2019, vehicle-related theft claims were 10% higher during these months, and 29% higher than in June 2019, when nights are shortest.
According to latest ONS data, in 47% of thefts from vehicles, doors were left unlocked, allowing easy access for thieves. This was by far the most common access route, followed by broken windows (19%) and forced doors (13%). In cases where a vehicle was taken, 14% were left unlocked. The outlook is also bleak for stolen vehicles in England and Wales: The ONS data shows almost three quarters (72%) were not returned. Of those which were returned, almost half (48%) were damaged, 30% beyond repair.
Sarah Applegate, Risk and Governance Lead, Aviva UKGI says: “Criminals take advantage of the cover of darkness. Sadly this means there can be more opportunities for vehicle crime when nights are longer. We’ve seen this trend in our home insurance claims and the same appears to be the case for vehicle-related thefts.
“But there are simple steps people can take to reduce their risk. Nearly half of vehicle-related thefts occur when people haven’t locked their vehicles, and an Aviva study finds almost a quarter of motorists don’t always do so. The same research suggests even when people have items which could protect their vehicles, they don’t always use them. Only around a third (34%) of drivers with garages store their vehicles in them all the time – and almost the same (33%) never put their vehicles in their garage.
“Simply locking vehicles and not leaving items on show inside reduces the risk, while items like steering locks, parking posts and garages put physical barriers in the way of a possible theft. Taking a few extra minutes to lock up and secure a vehicle can make a big difference in the eyes of a thief.”
Aviva has the following advice to vehicle owners to reduce the risk of vehicle-related thefts:
- Always lock the door. No matter where you park, even if you need to leave your vehicle unattended for just a minute. Make sure to close the windows and sunroof if you have one.
- Keep your vehicle keys or fobs in a secure place and ensure they’re out of sight and away from external doors and windows where they’re more likely to get stolen by thieves. It’s also a good idea to keep digital key fobs inside a security pouch to prevent them being scanned, thus enabling thieves to open and steal your vehicle.
- Don’t leave anything in your vehicle. Anything worth stealing makes your vehicle more attractive to thieves. Keep your car as ‘clean’ as possible and try not to leave anything inside, especially valuables. If you must store something in your vehicle for a short length of time, make sure it’s out of sight.
- Consider additional security. Any extra security features will further reduce the risk of theft from the vehicle or/and of the vehicle itself. Consider installing steering wheel locks, a tracking system or a car alarm if your car doesn’t have a factory-fitted model, especially if you park on the street.
- Park on a driveway or in a garage if possible. This will reduce the risk of both vehicle thefts and break-ins. You may also consider installing a retractable parking post on your driveway, to block a potential ‘escape route’. If you can’t park on a drive, try to park in a busy, well-lit area.