Car key theft on the rise

Article date: 10 April 2002

Car key theft is an increasing problem and millions of Britishmotorists are failing to protect themselves, a new study warnstoday.

Norwich Union, in conjunction with TRACKER – the leadingtracking and vehicles recovery company - have seen the number ofincidents where vehicles have been stolen using car keys taken fromthe home double in the last two years.

In fact, last year TRACKER recovered over £7 million worth ofcars stolen in this way – a 52 per cent increase from2000.

Against a background of more advanced vehicle alarms andimmobilisers, thieves are finding the easiest way to steal a moderncar is by taking the keys.

Research from Norwich Union shows most motorists are unaware ofthis shift of emphasis, with an estimated 11 million people givingno thought whatsoever to where they leave their car keys.

One of the more sophisticated methods employed by thievesinvolves them using a hook and cane to reach people’s keysthrough their letterboxes. Norwich Union claims investigators inthe north west estimate that between 30 and 40 per cent of motortheft claims in the area now involve the ‘hook andcane’ approach.

Yet three in five people admit that they don’t worry asmuch about the security of their car keys as they do otherhousehold items - even though the average cost of a car is 30 timesthat of a common household TV and video.

Jill Willis, household market development manager at NorwichUnion, said: “Having your home burgled is traumatic enough,but if thieves then use your own car to get away with yourpossessions, it only rubs salt into the wound.

“Many people just throw their car keys down when they gethome and give little thought about what that could mean if theywere burgled. Most of us would never dream of leaving £14,000 lyingaround the home - the average cost of a car - so it pays to be morecautious.”

Kevin Watters, managing director of TRACKER, said: "It is nolonger feasible to rely totally on the alarm or immobiliser toprotect your vehicle. By taking the keys, the thief identifies theweakest link in the vehicle’s security and is able tocircumvent the manufacturer’s latest securitytechnology."

Norwich Union urges motorists to take greater care with theircar keys and recommends that they should keep them in a lockedcabinet or hidden away - not lying on the hall table.

Press contact:
Jane Wheeler/Anja Kueppers at QBO on 020 7379 0304 or
David Ross at Norwich Union on 08703 66 68 65

Notes to editors

  • Norwich Union commissioned Taylor Nelson Sofres to interview644 car drivers across Britain in March 2002.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. In generalinsurance it is more than 1.5 times the size of its nearestcompetitor, and has a 19 per cent share of the market.
  • It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in five motor vehicles
    • more than 700,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies, and Norwich Union Direct.
  • Norwich Union's news releases are available on this internetsite
  • A selection of images are available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at
  • Norwich Union Insurance Limited Registered in England Number99122 Registered Office 8 Surrey Street Norwich NR1 3TA
  • Member of the CGNU group of companies and the GeneralInsurance Standards Council
  • The TRACKER system has recovered £19.5 million of vehiclesstolen with keys since 1994 and their statistics show a startling52% increase in the problem between 2000 and 2001.
  • TRACKER provides the motorist with a substantial degree ofconfidence that his/her vehicle will be recovered following a keytheft, in spite of the worrying increase in acquiring keys and thewillingness of many thieves to resort to violence.

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