Wednesday, 7 April 2010

This is what it looks like...

...when someone tries to steal your car from outside your house during the night.




It's not very impressive looking, but then, it is not a very impressive or interesting crime. My car was parked about 12 metres from our bedroom, we did not hear a sound and the car alarm did not go off. I found the damage when I popped outside to grab my raincoat from the car's boot the next morning. I found the car unlocked, with the above damage and all its windows stuck partially open. I assume that the car was saved by its immobiliser or its electronic coded key system. We duly reported the incident to the police over the phone and our insurers towed the car away last night to be fixed.

While we were putting polythene over the open car windows, a police woman happened to pass by (canvassing the neighbourhood about an unrelated incident) and stopped to speak to us,

'Yeah', she said, 'my car has been broken into 3 times so far - once while it was parked in the car park at the police station. I have stopped changing the car door lock because it has cost me over $1000 in repairs so far. If I decide to sell the car, I'll deal with the lock.

I see that all of your windows are stuck part-way down. They take advantage of a programmed feature on this make of car that means that when they punch out the door lock, it causes the windows to go down and the alarm (or its motion sensor?) to become disabled. Then it's low risk for them to get into the car and try to drive it away... least it didn't rain too much last night.

These people don't usually have cars of their own. It the Easter weekend and lots of people are away. They probably intended to take your car, use it for a couple of days to commit crime - like some break-ins nearby or something - and then dump it.

I would recommend a wheel lock as a visual deterrent and possibly an after-market alarm with a different coloured light to the factory fitted alarm - just something to make them hesitate and move on without damaging your car.'

This matter-of-fact information imparted, she said goodbye and continued on her way.

Inside my head, the good news - to me - was that the thief only seemed to be interested in the car (and a pair of sunglasses that I had left inside the arm rest). Nothing else was taken (although the glove box was rifled through) and the economy of effort/damage needed to get into the car and try to start it was quite impressive. Naively, I assumed this was because they wanted the car intact to sell on or strip down.

As I watched the police officer walk away, I realised that she was probably right. Their only interest in having my car in one piece was probably just so that it remained unremarkable and retained its ability to blend in. Oh, I guess that its decent load capacity and engine size probably made it attractive too.

For some reason, this made me realise how fond I have become of my faceless, comfortable, capacious car and how lucky I was that they did not manage to steal it. I am also happy that something of mine was not used in any sort of crime and then dumped. Or worse.

Apart from the obvious damage, which will be fixed, the only other indicator that some nasty, grimy stranger sat in my car and tried to steal it..?

Lots of cigarette ash scattered around the front seat areas, like this bit left on the passenger seat. I do not smoke. For some reason, this upsets me more than the door lock and ignition damage.


When the car comes back from the garage, perhaps I should install two signs on it, 'Don't bother - this car is fitted with a very effective immobiliser.' and 'Please refrain from smoking when attempting to steal this vehicle.'


Julie said...

wow! that's awful that someone tried to steal your car (and damaged bits of it in the process), but it's great that they failed! I can see why the smoking in it bothered you- that would totally bother me, too.

Kelli said...

That sucks. Glad you're fine.

Anonymous said...

Does suck. But I like your idea for a no-smoking sign. :-)

Back in Cape Town, where car crime is rife, I had a friend who got very cross with any passengers who carelessly locked the doors. The car was old and not worth stealing, but people would break in anyway just to look for valuables. Locking the doors just meant damage and repair costs.

Anonymous said...

Stone me - sounds just like being back in Hounslow!

I know how you feel though - some years ago my dark blue Merc was subject to a "steal to order" attack. This meant they broke into the house first to get the keys - we didn't hear anything either. Mind you they were pretty dumb thieves on two counts:
(1) If you are going to steal a Merc at least find out how to get the parking brake off before you start
(2) Don't leave the details of your "order book" in your diary,

They failed to get my car off the drive and when they were subsequently picked up by the plod they provided their own evidence for a 2 year stretch!