Stay a step ahead of thieves

It may take just a minute for your valuables to disappear

Cars are prime targets for thieves.
Cars are prime targets for thieves.

It was just going to take my friend a minute. Two at the most. She just needed to sign her son into kindy for the morning and that was it. So she left her handbag in the car.

Also expecting his job to take a minute was a thief on a scooter, scouting the kindy carpark.

So when my friend returned to the car, not only did she find her driver's window smashed, but her handbag taken.

Gone was her purse with cash, credit and eftpos cards in it, plus her full makeup bag.

Unfortunately she wasn't the only target that day by the scooter-riding handbag thief - he was hitting other kindergarten carparks and schools.

Another target for thieves are service stations where people leave their cars unlocked - and sometimes keys in the ignition - when they go to pay for their gas, only to return to find their belongings gone or even the vehicle missing.

So here are hints and safety times to keep you, your vehicle and your contents safe.

*Take your purse/wallet with you - no matter how short a time you are at a location or where it is.

*Lock your car, even if you are just nipping into the dairy to pick up the New Zealand Herald or doing the school drop-off.

*The best way to keep your valuables safe is to leave them at home. You'll probably want your camera and mobile phone with you on your holiday or for weekends away but protect them every day. If you must leave valuable items in your car, keep them out of sight, either in the glovebox or the boot. This goes for chargers, power cords, and other accessories, too. A thief who sees your mobile phone charger will assume the phone is also in your vehicle.

*Remember that thieves may be watching as you get in or out of your car, especially in mall carparks. If you have valuables in the back seat of your car, a thief may see you transfer them to your boot and act accordingly. Thieves also follow a customer from a store to grab your shopping or handbag. Stay aware and plan ahead. In areas known for smash-and-grab thefts, put your purse and other valuables into your boot, then lock it, before you start driving, or put your handbag under the front passenger's seat, and lock your doors before taking off.

*If your GPS unit mounts on to your windshield with a suction cup device, you'll see a faint circular mark on the inside of the windshield when you take down your GPS. If you can see it, a thief can, too, and that thief might leap to the conclusion that your GPS unit is stored inside your car. Carry window cleaning wipes or buy a bottle of spray cleaner and paper towels, then use them every day.

*Never leave in the car documents such as credit cards, chequebook, even mail. A thief could use the the information to burgle your home.

- NZ Herald

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