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Personal Assault For Keys

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 29 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Personal Assault Car Keys Car Alarms Car

As car alarms and immobilisers become increasingly more sophisticated, there has been a disturbing trend in car thieves taking steps to steal keys to get into the car they want to steal, rather than breaking into it.

This happens a lot when cars are stolen 'to order', as breaking into them can leave damage to the car that reduces their value on the black market and in some cases can leave them unwanted - and the thieves don't get their money.

Rising Number of Cars Stolen Using Keys

Research shows that in the two years between the years 2000 and 2002, the number of incidents reported where cars were stolen using car keys doubled. Astonishingly, according to a government survey, of the stolen cars registered after the year 1997, the keys were used in 85% of incidents where the method of theft was known.

The most common method for getting hold of the keys, was burglary (37%) and through the owner leaving the keys in the car (18%). Cars were targeted in sites where drivers were separated from their cars for a few minutes, and where normal security procedures were not followed (e.g. petrol stations, driveways etc).

Insurance Companies even took the unprecedented step of advising homeowners to be extremely careful as to where they leave their keys and to treat them as they would do other valuable household items.

Jill Willis of insurance company Norwich Union says, "Most of us would never dream of leaving £14,000 lying around the home - the average cost of a new car - so it pays to be more cautious."


Initially, when the theft of car keys from houses began to increase, people were warned to be careful about where they were putting their car keys when they came into the house. Many people keep them somewhere 'safe' so that they are easy to find, such as on occasional tables or on key holders near the front door.

But these places are sadly no longer a safe place. Between 30/40% of motor theft in the North West Area is thought to occur after the keys have been swiped from the owner, or from their property. The most popular 'hook and cane' approach refers to a method used where the criminal reaches in through the letterbox with a hook and cane and picks up the keys, bringing them back through the letterbox and into their hands.

Another way of obtaining keys is a lot simpler and requires a lot less skill. The thief sees that the house is empty (in many cases), sees the car keys and breaks into the property, stealing the keys. Before anyone knows what has happened, both the keys and the thief have gone.

Personal Attacks

Even more worryingly, attacks on individuals to get hold of car keys have become even more common in recent years.

Unsuspecting motorists have been mugged, followed, attacked and beaten, simply so that a car thief can get away with their car without having to bypass sophisticated alarm systems. Keys are stolen from handbags, office desks; anywhere they are 'hidden'. If someone does attack you for your car keys, just hand them over. It's not worth the risk.


Car-jacking is also another way that thieves can get hold of your vehicle. They stop your car and threaten you, throwing you out of the car and driving off in it. Sometimes they'll threaten or hit you first to make you stop, other times they'll follow you in another car and jump out when you're stopped at traffic lights, but it is a terrifying experience, and should it happen to you, you should just allow them to take the car: You can always get another car, but you can't replace your life.

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