Friday August 26, 2016
One common mistake made by owners of classic cars is thinking that break-ins and attempted thefts will never occur to them.
As any police officer will tell you, many thieves really do thrive on such ideas, as a friend of mine recently discovered. He owns a once popular but now rare family saloon that dates from 1990; not an expensive car in terms of cost, but one that means a great deal to him. On a recent overnight trip to the West Country, he parked in a quiet side street; ‘the town looked far too nice to have any vandals’.
As you will have doubtlessly predicted, the following morning my friend discovered that the driver’s window had been smashed and the steering column vandalised; two hallmarks of a failed theft attempt. Fortunately, the damage was comparatively minor but the effects of even this ‘simple break in’ were more long-lasting. The wipers and ignition no longer correctly functioned resulting in the now undriveable car having to be transported back home, plus spares traced and repairs commissioned. But, much more than the inconvenience of telephone calls, making garage appointments and paperwork was the sheer upset of having a vehicle that he had invested his time and emotions in, vandalised.
In fact, more than my friend’s day was ruined. Time has now passed since the attempted theft but he is still reluctant for the car to leave its garage and this is a shame for several reasons. It means that the villains’ actions have now shaped how he wishes to spend his time. For many of us, as well as him, this involves attending events during the summer months. It does not matter if the show is a nationally advertised one or a local venue - or if your classic of choice is a Jaguar E-Type 3.8 Roadster or an Austin Maestro 1.3 City – it is the pride of ownership that matters. These are cars that are meant to be driven, appreciated and admired and the key to this enjoyment is to take some simple precautions.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case so we decided to speak to West Midlands Police to see what advice they’d give to fellow classic car owners;
“When out and about, remember not everyone is admiring your pride and joy just for its looks. Somebody may see pound signs, so we’d recommend fitting a physical Thatcham 3* rated security device – steering locks, gear and handbrake locks or even the dreaded wheel clamp. They are quick and easy to fit but will deter all but the most determined car thief.
When the season is over it’s important to review the security of your vehicle and the location where it’ll be secured. If it will be at home in a garage or in a storage facility, is there an alarm covering the garage or lock up and is it monitored? Other things to consider include, how secure the building is. Is there a pedestrian entrance and will the door withstand an attack? If the pedestrian door is PAS24 or LPS1175 rated you should be ok. If not, or you don’t know how to check your locks, seek help and advice from a member of Master Locksmiths Association (http://www.locksmiths.co.uk/).
If you have a vehicular access door, make sure you have fitted a Sold Secure silver or gold rated garage door anti lift device to stop it being prised open. These products can be found at your local Master Locksmiths Association stockist.”
It really could happen to anyone, regardless of marque, model or location. But by following this advice the chances of it happening are minimised.