Around 70% of cars made after 2001 are stolen with their own keys. With car key burglaries becoming more common, we look at how to protect your keys, whether you should hide them, and what to do if a thief confronts you.
The days of “hot-wiring” a car to steal it are largely gone. Modern car electronics mean thieves need the actual keys to steal a car. As a result, they’re having to change their modus-operandi.
Thieves are now committing home burglaries to take car keys so they can steal the car. It’s a relatively new phenomenon known as “car key burglaries”.
An opportunistic car thief will sneak into a home through an unlocked door or window and look for keys in easy-to-access places like on a kitchen bench, in a bowl near the door or on a key hook.
Keep your keys out of sight, so that they aren’t visible from outside through windows and doors or left in easy-to-access locations. And make sure all your doors and windows are always locked securely – including rear and patio doors.
We know some people are concerned that hiding their keys will encourage a criminal to come further into their home and attack them. Opportunistic thieves want to be in and out of your home as quickly as possible, to avoid being caught or having to confront anyone.
There is no evidence to suggest that hiding keys will increase the chances that offenders will confront you.
Around 4 out of every 5 burglaries in Victoria happen when there’s no-one at home (CSA). In 95% of car key thefts, thieves have no interaction with the homeowner (NMVTRC). Occasionally, the residents might be home but are unaware of the thieves entering their property. In most cases, thieves will actually avoid coming into contact with the homeowner.
Contemporary academic research suggests that:
While most thieves will go out of their way to avoid confrontation with homeowners, it does happen on rare occasions. And some of these offenders may have a violent temperament and will use violence to commit car-jackings or aggravated burglaries regardless of where the car key is kept.
In you are ever confronted by a burglar in your home, police encourage you to comply with demands to reduce the risk of harm. Property can be replaced, people can’t.
Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.