We have written rather extensively on the need for increased vehicle security to combat vehicle theft. Our blog entries on the Car Insurance Blog at carinsurance.arrivealive.co.za focused on a variety of vehicle security systems and also provided advice on the need to park your vehicle in a safe spot.
But what if you have a car alarm and immobilizer and you still find that property is removed from your vehicle? Is it possible for someone to gain access to the inside of your vehicle without having to forcefully break into your vehicle?
Thieves with the ability to jam immobilizers
A well known insurance company shared information with the car insurance blog from an email received from a concerned vehicle owner. We would like to share this without reference to the names of the specific insurer and client:
“To whom it may concern
I would like you to send out this article to all Insurer X clients. This happened to me while coming back from holiday on 7 May 2010.
We stopped at the Shell Ultra City at Middleburg. While the men went into the shop for refreshments, our ladies played with the baby on the grass right in front of our vehicles.(yet not hearing or noticing anything) The men were away only about 4 minutes, as we planned to get going right after them getting the goods from the shop.
When we got back into our vehicles, I noticed that my handbag (with all my personal documents & goods / purse – all my cards, cash cell phone), were missing. My bag was under the passenger seat foot space…hardly visible. Yet in that short period they just took a chance and accessed our vehicle in search of any valuables.
Luckily my petrol card was in the vehicle ashtray (I’ve put it in there after filling up, to be easily accessible for tollgates) I don’t normally do this, but maybe that day it was meant to be our saving grace, as this enabled us to fuel up, and pay for tollgates to get back home as my bank cards and cash were gone. I also stopped all my cards immediately – so even if they dumped my bag and cards in a dustbin, where we could have found it, it would have been to no use then.
No sign of a break in at all. The Middleburg police came out to the scene and opened a case docket. They informed us, that this was the how many’eth case that week, and that these crooks actually targets vehicles out of the reach of the filling station camera’s – that are normally placed in the vacinity of the fuel pumps and shop entrances.(so if possible – rather pick a parking there)
I am also a Insurer X client – yet I could not claim for the loss I have suffered – As Insurer X said I needed to specify these items, and it should have been locked away in an enclosed boot compartment, as they do not cover any loose items inside the vehicle(no matter if packed for holiday), even if the vehicle was locked.
Needless to say: After purchasing a new cell phone, (Sim swap done). New bag and purse, re applying for an ID & card license, etc. It came to a total of nearly R3500, 00. Not to mention the inconvenience or cost to apply for personal documents (getting temporary ones etc), or having bank cards replaced (at cost) and re-activated to enable you to access your funds again.
Please take note of this, and be very careful. If I can prevent anyone the trauma this has caused me, or the predicament it could have caused by being stuck without cash, then at least it did not happen in vain.
Media Reports of theft from Vehicles
Further credit has been given to this property loss story through an article in the Observer Newspaper in Middelburg. Two persons demonstrated to the media and public how they manage to jam a vehicle immobilizer by using the remote from your everyday security gate.
Vehicle owners tend to be in a rush when exiting their vehicles and often leave the vehicles under the impression that they are secure having pressed the vehicle immobilizer. This is in fact not the case and allows criminals the opportunity to steal property from the unsecured vehicle.
Advice to Vehicle owners to avoid theft from their vehicles
We would like to offer some advice to our vehicle owners:
• Be alert and cautious to where you park your vehicle.
• It is best to park where there are many people around and in the vicinity of security cameras.
• Be on the lookout for people who are wandering around for no apparent reason.
• If you are spending time in a restaurant and it is possible – find a seat within view of your vehicle.
• Do not rush away from your vehicle without checking whether your vehicle is indeed secure.
• Wait for the “beeb” from the immobilizer – or even better – see that your doors are locked.
• Close all the windows of your vehicle
Criminals will find new innovative ways all the time to commit their crimes. Be alert and vigilant to avoid vehicle and property loss!!