Remember, Remember 5 November - The top day for smash and grabs

New research from Autoglass reveals a worrying 5 November tradition that's nothing to do with Guy Fawkes. According to the UK's leading vehicle glass repair and replacement company, 5 November is no longer just about bonfires and fireworks - as one of the firm's busiest days of the year, it's also notorious for smash and grab sprees which leave thousands of motorists up and down the country distressed, inconvenienced and seriously out of pocket.

The fourteenth annual Cracking Car Crime survey commissioned by Autoglass identifies that a massive six out of 10 motorists - 20.8 million people - say their vehicle has been broken into during the last two years. This figure far exceeds that quoted in the latest British Car Crime Survey for theft from vehicles in 2006/2007 (around 1.2m) which suggests millions of motorists are choosing not to report smash and grab/attempted smash and grab incidents to the police.

As 5 November, one of the top days for smash and grab incidents approaches, Autoglass® is urging motorists to be extra vigilant and protect themselves from opportunistic thieves stealing from cars under cover of darkness and noise of firework displays. The company is also ensuring that during November additional staff, many of whom have been trained by the charity Victim Support, are on hand to look after affected customers.

According to the survey of over 1,000 motorists, gadgets - including Blackberrys, pdas, satnavs and mobile phones - CD players/radios, CDs, money and credit cards are the most likely items to be grabbed by thieves which have either been 'hidden' away in the glove compartment (33%) or boot (16%). And it seems many motorists aren't even trying to hide their valuables as 14% of drivers have had items stolen after being left in full view on the driver or passenger seat.

The surge in popularity of high tech gadgets such as Blackberries and Satnavs presents a double opportunity for thieves, who could find themselves not only with an item of value, but also a wealth of personal information which could lead to even richer pickings. Reformed car thief Richard Taylor is an associate pastor at the Renewal Christian Centre in Birmingham and a presenter on BBC's 'To Catch a Thief'. He said: "The growth in popularity of high tech gadgets - many of which are often left on display in cars - is just brilliant news for thieves and an open invitation to steal as much as possible.

"Not only can a stolen SatNav or Blackberry fetch up to £50, but the personal information which is often stored in these devices can be a real gift for thieves. Suddenly you can find out names and home addresses, bank details and other personal identification information, holiday plans, work commitments - the list just goes on.

"When it comes to smaller value items such as CDs, many people think these won't prove a temptation to thieves. Sadly this is not the case - thieves are opportunists and will smash and grab anything of value - no matter how small. At the end of the day, a handful of CDs could make them a quick £10."

The Cracking Car Crime survey reveals that 67% of motorists didn't claim on their insurance. With the average cost of a break in at just over £300 (£305.38), the crime bill footed by UK drivers over the last two years is a staggering £4.2bn³.

Autoglass® is advising motorists to remember to remove all valuables and personal possessions when they leave their vehicles. Nigel Doggett, the company's managing director, said: "By highlighting the time of year when we experience a surge in glass replacements we hope motorists will be reminded of the simple steps that they can take to protect themselves from opportunistic thieves.

"Drivers can help make their car less attractive to a thief looking to do a quick smash and grab by ensuring that no valuables, or evidence of valuables, are in view. If all personal possessions are removed from the car then in the event of a break in, there is very little for the thief to steal."

Autoglass® is committed to keeping motorists, their cars and belongings safe. Its annual car crime study is now into its fourteenth year and its long-standing 'Cracking Car Crime' campaign unites motorists, police forces and local authorities around the country in the battle to beat car crime.


¹ Based on 34.7m UK drivers registered with the DVLA (2006)
² British Crime Survey 2006/07, theft from vehicle (recorded)
³ Calculated on the basis of 20.8m drivers facing the average bill of £305.88

Autoglass® Cracking Car Crime Survey
Over 1,000 motorists were surveyed by One Poll:
- Six out of 10 motorists say their vehicle has been broken into during the last two years
- Gadgets including Sat Navs, PDA systems, CD players/radios, CDs, money and credit cards are the most likely items to be grabbed by thieves
- 33% of stolen items were 'hidden away' in the glove compartment
- 16% of stolen items were in the boot
- 14% of drivers have had items stolen after being left in full view on the driver or passenger seat
- 67% of motorists didn't claim on their insurance
- The average cost of a break in is costing UK motorists £305.88 - an annual UK crime bill of £4.2bn (based on DVLA vehicle owner statistics)

British Crime Survey 2006/7
• There were 502,663 incidences of theft from vehicles reported in England and Wales in 2005/06 - a fall of 1% compared to the previous year
• Vehicle related thefts (includes theft of a vehicle, interference and tampering) fell by 2% to 1,689,000 crimes
• Overall 7.5% of vehicle-owning households had experienced one or more vehicle-related thefts in the previous 12 months. This remains unchanged from the previous year's figures.
• Altogether recorded offences against vehicles have fallen by 32 per cent since 1998/99