Soaring value of in-car contents encouraging opportunist theft

Article date: 2 February 2007

  • Motorists warned about thieves "smashing and grabbing" sidewindscreens to bag car booty

RAC Auto Windscreens is warning motorists about rocketing theftfrom cars, with a 23% rise in the number of smashed side windowsreported last year due to opportunistic thieves grabbing expensivegadgets left in clear view in unattended cars.

Research carried out by RAC Auto Windscreens* reveals that despitea car theft taking place every 22 seconds, over 40% of motoristsregularly leave valuables on show when their cars are unattended,making rich pickings for thieves who are increasingly smashing sidewindows to bag booty. A further quarter of motorists admit toleaving gadgets on show and unattended for more than 10 minutes ata time.

Only 3% of motorists secure valuables in an in-car safe and just13% put precious possessions in the boot. This means that 84% ofmotorists would not be covered by their standard insurance policyif they were victims of a "smash and grab" theft.

The research also revealed that one in ten cars has contents worthmore than £1,000 – that’s over twice the value ofelectrical goods in the average British bedroom (£399). Thisincludes:

  • A quarter of cars having sat nav technology
  • A fifth transporting a laptop
  • One in eight containing iPods and portable DVD players
  • Three quarters of motorists having a mobile phone in thecar.

Reformed burglar and presenter of BBC2's To Catch a Thiefprogramme, Michael Fraser, explains: “Leaving desirable goodssuch as iPods, phones and satellite navigation systems on displayputs temptation in the path of opportunist thieves who will simplysmash and grab the goods on show. Throwing a coat over expensivebelongings or hiding things under the seat is not a deterrent for adetermined thief. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to smasha side windscreen and make off with goods, so people are gettingcaught short when they leave goods unattended even for only a fewminutes.”

Spokesperson Adam Cracknell comments: “Today’s cars aretreasure troves packed with the latest technology and gadgetsmaking them a target for theft. Not surprisingly, our call centreshave received a surge of calls reporting thefts since Christmas andthe new year sales. We are urging all UK motorists to take bettercare of their valuables by putting them in an in-car safe orlocking them in the boot. The problem is that motorists are notonly enticing thieves to their cars by leaving valuables ondisplay, but they also stand to miss out on being able to make aninsurance claim if they have not secured theirvaluables.”

RAC Auto Windscreens top tips to prevent theft:

  • Invest in an in-car safe to keep valuables in
  • Choose your parking spot wisely – consider parking incar parks with security guards and / or CCTV. Some policies offerreduced premiums if you regularly park in such locations
  • Make a list of all your valuables, calculate how much they areworth and check that your insurance cover is sufficient
  • Get windscreen chips fixed immediately – don’topen the window of opportunity for thieves 
  • Sat navs are an easy reach from side window smashes and oftencontain personal data which could lead the thief to your home– keep them out of sight when not in use.


RAC Press office contact:
Adam Cracknell and Jon Dayat RAC Press Office on 01603 684916/07800 699517 or 01603209287/07800 690555 or Sonia Clarke on 0207 908 6570 or LeilaBateman on 0207 908 6550

Notes to editors:

* Research conducted by ICM on behalf of RAC AutoWindscreens between 19 and 21 January 2007.

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is oneof the UK's most progressive motoring organizations, providingservices for both private and business motorists. Whether it'sroadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning todrive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial servicesor up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able tomeet motorists’ needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC AutoWindscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC'spowerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leadingposition in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part ofAviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one inseven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.

RAC’s news releases and a selection of images are availablefrom the internet press centre at

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