Confessions of a car thief

Ever wondered why car thieves target your car to break into? Find out what makes your car a target and what you can do to help prevent a future break in.
Published in:   Car

Having your car nicked is really, really annoying. Not only is there the inconvenience of being without a vehicle, but it’s also infuriating to know that someone is driving around out there in your pride and joy! One question that car theft victims always want to know is: why? Why did the car thief take my car? We talked to some reformed car thieves to find out an answer to that very question and discovered that there are actually several different answers. 

It may surprise you to know that many car thieves don’t normally keep the cars they steal for themselves. Depending on the model, professional thieves may cut it up themselves or take it to a “chop shop” to be reduced down into parts for resale on the black market:

 “Once we’d pinched a car that was in demand usually we’d break it down and sell the parts ourselves. But sometimes we’d take it to a shop and they’d strip it all the way down to the engine and flog off the lot.” 

Of course there are always exceptions, particularly with younger thieves: 

“I was very choosy. If I had the choice of this car or that, I’d go for the sporty one with the dark windows. The girls like those ones more than the ordinary ones so I had to steal something more sporty because that would impress the girls.”

 Sometimes the thieves aren’t targeting the whole car but rather individual items inside it like a stereo, or items of body kit on the outside: 

“Say I’ve got a Mitsi and you’ve got the same one but with a sick spoiler on the back. So I’ll take your car just for the spoiler. Then I’ll whip that off and put it on my car and dump yours. I only needed the spoiler, to hell with the rest of it.” 

Sometimes the theft is as basic as fulfilling a need: 

“I went out clubbing one Saturday night and I lost track of all my mates. So I was just there downtown with no wheels to get home. So I took a car just to get home that’s all. I didn’t plan it.” 

Location plays an important part in many thefts, even in public places and in broad daylight: 

“Supermarkets aren’t just for shoppers! They’re great for us too and no one looks twice if you’re walking around all those cars. Same goes for carparks too.” 

What you can do

As you can see, car thieves are all different and have contrasting reasons for stealing but there are precautions you can take to make it as difficult as possible for them to take yours:

  • Install a car alarm. Most car thieves operate quickly and quietly and will be put off by the presence of a car alarm whether it’s at home, in a carpark or on the street. Steering wheel locks, anti-theft markings and immobilizers will also do the trick, and while it won’t prevent the theft, a tracking system can help to find your vehicle 
  • Keep your car in a garage at home or park it behind a locked gate 
  • If you have to park in town, try to park in a manned carpark. Otherwise, park in clear well-lit area. 
  • Don’t make your car more tempting by leaving valuable items like smart phones or laptops in clear view. Take them with you or leave out of sight. Also, while it may seem obvious, make sure you lock your car and take your keys with you – even if you’re just leaving the car for a few minutes. 
  • Don’t keep a spare set of keys in your car either – it makes it way too easy for thieves. And remember, never get complacent because you don’t think your car is worth stealing. While expensive and / or sporty vehicles are the most targeted by thieves, that doesn’t mean your older car is immune from danger. It could easily be taken just for a joyride or simply because the thief is temporarily without wheels.

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