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Carjacking: Where It Occurs, How It Occurs, and What To Do After

Carjacking. A crime we regularly see on the news or in movies, but it’s a situation we never suspect to find ourselves in. However uncommon you assume it is, carjacking is more than just a gripping movie scene, and it is surprisingly common across Australia. In fact, it’s estimated every ten minutes, a car is stolen in Australia, with over 58, 000 cars being stolen in 2019. With statistics this high, learning how to spot, and react to a carjacking is today’s reality. While we hope you never have to use these tips, the team at Novus have equipped you today with the tools and knowledge that can help you and your loved ones stay safe.

The Most Common Car Thefts

If you have a motorcycle or Holden Commodore and have your car parked on Friday evenings between 4:00 pm -8:00 pm, we have bad news for you. Your vehicle is in the most likely situation to be stolen. Whilst it’s not realistic to change your vehicle or to be hypervigilant to the point where it impedes what you’re doing, there are tips that can help decrease your chances of car theft. First, it’s useful to understand what the two most common types of car thefts are.

Short term thefts: This type of theft occurs when a vehicle is stolen temporarily, and then returned or recovered. The majority of these car thefts are recovered within the first week of being reported missing.

Profit-motivated thefts: As the name suggests, these are thefts motivated by profit and not recovered. Unlike short term thefts, larger vehicles are more likely to be targeted for profit-motivated theft.

How Do Thieves Steal Cars?

While there is a multitude of ways thieves can steal vehicles, the most common remain:

  • Stealing keys during a burglary: This includes stealing cars inside your home and on a person. This is by far the most common method of theft, with 37% of vehicles stolen this way.
  • Stealing a car that has the keys inside: Some of you may be questioning, who leaves their keys inside their car? Surprisingly many do, as this theft accounts for 18% of carjackings. The good news is, this is one of the easiest thefts to prevent. Simply not leaving your keys in the car, even whilst at home will help deter thieves. If you live in rural areas, this is especially true, as many believe living rurally decreases their chance of being a victim of crimes in general.
  • Hotwiring: Possibly the most familiar method of car theft we see in the movies. 14% of vehicles are stolen this way.
  • The other less common ways of car theft include criminals who get keys made for the car, thieves who know the vehicle’s owner takes the vehicle without consent to later report it stolen and keys stolen accidentally during a robbery.

How Is Hijacking or Carjacking Different From Theft?

Although having someone steal a piece of property from yourself while you sleep is scary enough, there is a more serious and threatening version of this crime known as hijacking or carjacking. Unlike car theft, hijacking is where a criminal approaches a driver, usually threatening you and demanding or stealing your keys from you. Even more frightening, is this can happen while you are in the actual car, usually when drivers have been stopped at traffic lights or on the side of the road. For that reason, it’s incredibly important to always drive with your car doors locked. During this type of theft, weapons can also be involved, which is where your personal safety enters the mix.

How To Prevent Your Car From Being Stolen

While you may be feeling overwhelmed knowing the statistics on when and how your car is most likely to be stolen, you can also be more prepared and even reduce your chances of car theft. Prevention is the name of the game here, and there are multiple ways you can protect your car from being stolen.

  1. Lock your car: It may seem obvious, but the easiest way to deter thieves is by practice and from a good habit of locking your car. This includes when your car is on your own driveway, and you’re just ducking back inside for something you forgot.
  2. Lock your garage: Similarly to locking your car, you need to ensure your garage door is also locked. This not only prevents your car from being broken into, but it also decreases the chances of thieves being able to enter your house in search of the keys. It is also a good idea to make sure any windows to your house are shut or secured with anti-theft screens.
  3. Take your valuables with you: Another easy deterrent is to remove, or at the minimum hide, any valuables inside your car. Having valuables on display, such as leaving your bag on the passenger seat is like holding a red flag in front of a bull. It can invite thieves to break into your vehicle.
  4. Don’t forget the keys: Another good habit to form is viewing your keys as an extension of yourself. By that we mean, you need to take them wherever you go, and if you aren’t at home, you can store them in a secure non-obvious place burglars are less likely to check. This means no more hiding of keys under the doormat or inside plant plots.
  5. Don’t assume you’re immune: There’s a common belief that if you have an older car you’ll be less susceptible to car theft. Thieves only target newer cars after all right? This isn’t the case with thieves, as older cars are the usual target. Older cars are targeted as they’re easier to break into, hotwire, and generally less protected than newer models.
  6. Invest in anti-theft car technology: Want to cause a potential thief a headache as well as protect your car? Nothing will achieve this more than visible anti-theft technology. Steering wheel locks, ignition kill switches, floorboard locks and gear shift locks are essential in arming your car against thieves. Vehicle tracking devices are also quickly gaining popularity. These can be activated if your car is stolen, and be a valuable asset in aiding police track and retrieve your car as fast as possible.
  7. Teach your children the importance of safety: A part of keeping your assets safe is ensuring everyone in your household is also on board. If you have children, teach them the importance of safety and security, as well as set rules in place that prevents them from taking your car, given they’re on their Provisional Licence, without permission. Not only will this teach them responsibility, but it will help them learn the skills to keep themselves and their household more secure.

What To Do When Your Car Has Been Stolen

1. Report Your Stolen Car To The Police

The unimaginable has happened, and you’ve realised your car has been stolen. The most important thing you can do now is to stay calm. We know it seems like an impossible task, but panicking is counterproductive, and can delay you in making steps towards retrieving your car. If you were parked in a new area or somewhere public, ask bystanders if they noticed anything suspicious or unusual. Similarly to if you’ve been in a car accident, if you have your phone on you, take detailed notes of what happened, including where your car was parked, the time you noticed it was stolen, and take photos if you can. Following this, the police should be contacted immediately. 70% of short term theft cars are recovered in the first week, so time is of the essence in this situation.

Remember, the longer you wait to report the theft, the less chance you have of retrieving your car. After all, there is a possibility that your car could still be in the area or abandoned nearby. The police are also dealing with hundreds of stolen car reports each week, so recently stolen cars are given greater priority, which increases their chance of recovery. While talking with the police, make sure you provide them with all the valid information about your car. This includes your cars:

  • Registration
  • Make
  • Colour
  • Model
  • Any other distinguishing features of your car
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

2. Call Your Insurance Provider

Following your report to the police, contact your insurance provider. This is also better to do sooner rather than later. Cars that are retrieved but damaged, have higher credibility and a better chance of achieving compensation. Before contacting your insurance, you should identify what policy you have and whether it covers you against theft. If your wallet was also inside your car, your next step is to contact your bank to report it as stolen. If you want to turn vigilante, the furthest we recommend is searching for your car being sold online.

In the unfortunate event, the police aren’t able to recover your car and you’ve exhausted your avenues, considering buying a new car might be your last option. While this isn’t the resolution you were hoping for, with experience comes knowledge. With your new car purchase, you’ll be better prepared and armed in protecting your car against future thefts.

What Does Insurance Cover?

Depending on your insurance policy, you may be covered for car theft. Third-Party Fire and Theft is a perfect mid-range cover option that protects you from carjacking and theft. With this option you have a little more coverage, being insured against damages from fire or other uninsured cars, while still being less expensive than Comprehensive Car Insurance. It’s important to know car insurance usually doesn’t cover the loss of any valuables inside your car, so it’s another reason why we always recommend taking your valuables with you.

While this is never a situation we would want anyone to be in, carjackings do happen. With these tips from the team at Novus, you can effectively know how to react and guard yourself against potential attacks or thefts. As your number one windscreen repair and replacement specialists, we are here for you! To get your windscreen serviced today, you can contact us, or take a look at our range of other services.

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