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Simple way to cut car theft 'ignored by many'

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The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) is urging that more be done to highlight to Australian drivers how simple measures like storing keys away from windows and doors can greatly reduce the risk of car theft.

Each year the Council commissions Nexus Research to conduct a national consumer survey on community awareness of motor vehicle theft. This year's survey of 1218 car drivers across Australian capital cities, which was conducted online in February, found only 58% keep their keys out of sight.

That reinforces a need for more education to make clear the connection between home burglary and key theft, and to highlight that even if parked in the driveway a car can be stolen if the thief has access to the keys, the Council says.

Stealing keys during residential burglaries is becoming an increasingly common method of stealing cars. In up to a third of all residential burglaries in major capital cities where a car was stolen last year, the vehicle keys were the only contents stolen.

This year's survey results “point to a lack of awareness of the connection between key theft and the fact that vehicles are most commonly stolen from the home, including the garage or a driveway,” the Council says.

The survey found “confusion around what is the most common method of theft and a prevailing misconception as to where a car is most likely to be stolen from and the most effective security method to employ to reduce the risk of theft”.

Vehicle theft is mostly committed by young people, with seven out of 10 thefts for short term use. More than half of all vehicles stolen are newer models fitted with sophisticated security that cannot be started without access to an original.

Last year, just under half of all vehicle thefts occurred from the home, including the driveway or garage, with 24% occurring from the street and a further 9% stolen from a business or public place.

“Given the high proportion of thefts from the home it is important that the NMVTRC continues to use community messaging to highlight the fact that cars are mostly stolen from homes or driveways via sneak thefts,” the Council said.

The NMVTRC is funded by governments and the insurance industry.