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A simple wing mirror error could act as a sign to thieves that a car is easily available to be stolen or riffled through for valuables. A modern vehicle left unattended without wing mirrors folded in could indicate it has been left unlocked, the AA and police have said.
Convicted car thieves spoke to university researchers to explain how they looked out for expensive cars with wing mirrors sticking out.
Unlocked cars mean thieves don’t have to worry about any security devices and can steal any valuables left inside.
Former police chief inspector Kevin Floyd, a criminologist at Huddersfield University, who interviewed convicted car thieves in prison, told The Telegraph that most of the thefts came from “lazy” motorists failing to lock their cars even when they had valuables inside.
Mr Floyd said: “With modern cars nowadays, open wing mirrors equate in the thief’s mind with an open door. It’s as simple as that. It’s a green flag.
“It’s as easy as walking along the street. They don’t want to try the doors because they are so sensitive they will set off an alarm but if the mirrors are open, then it’s confirmation the car is unlocked and no alarm will go off.
“They can then sit there, pretend to be the owner and take as long as they want to have a good look around and either nick things or steal the car. It’s an open invitation.
“The other basic mistake is leaving valuables in the first place because the car owners are lazy.
“It is not just valuables with a financial value but valuables that can be used to commit more theft. For example, people may leave a bunch of house keys and a letter with their address in there.”
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Jenny Sims, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s, echoed Mr Floyd’s comments adding that in the past year the theft of vehicles had risen by 22 percent from around 90,000 to nearly 110,000, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
She said: “Locking your vehicle, even when filling up or parked on your drive, greatly reduces the possibility of it being targeted by an opportunist thief.
“Even if you have locked your vehicle, check you haven’t left any windows or the sunroof open.
“Vehicles today are by and large more difficult to steal than ever unless the thief can access your key or fob to clone them.
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“Keep your keys safe, out of view when at home, and away from your front door.”
Jack Cousens, the head of roads policy at the AA, added: “Looking out for modern cars without their wing mirrors folded in is quite a cheeky trick for thieves.
“Sometimes the simplest thing is the biggest giveaway and, while wing mirrors will just blend into the background for passers-by and car owners, open mirrors must stand out like a sore thumb to the miscreants.
“If that wasn’t enough, drivers often just press the buttons on the key fob and trust the airwaves that their car has been locked.
“However, thieves have now got their hands on signal blocking technology allowing them to intercept the request from the key, meaning drivers walk away unknowingly leaving the car unlocked.
“Waiting an extra five seconds to check the mirrors and handle is all that’s needed to ensure the car is locked before walking away.”
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