Police issue warning after thieves pounce on unattended, warming cars

Lachlan Roberts 5 July 2019
Canberra winter mornings

Thieves pounce on cars with engines running on frosty Canberra winter mornings. Photo: Supplied.

When Kirsten Graham’s husband left their car warming up out the front of their Fadden home on Monday morning (1 July), the thought that the car could be stolen never crossed her mind.

But in the sixty seconds that her husband ducked inside to pick up their one-year-old son and carry him back to the driveway on Bugden Avenue, the car had disappeared.

“My husband had scraped off the ice but it wasn’t coming off so he decided to blast it a bit with the windscreen heater and left the car running,” she shared. “He grabbed our son out his highchair and walked back and the car was gone.

“It was less than a minute. It was crazy. If we were to leave it for five minutes, I could understand but it was 45 seconds.”

The car was found dumped and written-off two days later in Chisholm, and the bags which were in the car when stolen were found in Mawson.

“Initially I thought it might be opportunistic thieves but we think it might be professionals who drive around and wait for someone to do this because everyone does it,” Ms Graham said.

“All they have to do is drive around for a little while and find one and we were the unlucky ones. Our previous home was broken into before and the police then said that thieves use stolen cars for break-ins. So I imagine that it was used to rob somebody else.”

She warned other Canberrans to be aware that this could have happened to anyone.

“Insurance is technically void when you leave your keys in your car,” she said. “You might think you are insured but insurance companies can easily turn around and say they are not paying.

“Ours decided to pay which we are really thankful for but it is hugely stressful. We borrowed a car for a couple of days, we had to get a new licence for my husband because his wallet was in the car. We had to change the locks on our house.

“It was the last thing we needed this week. We have a family member sick in the hospital, we just finished moving so it’s a total disaster but we will get there.”

Officer in Charge of Traffic Operations Station Sergeant Jayde Evans has warned car owners not to leave their vehicles with their engines running and unattended.

“Police are aware of a number of recent incidents where people have left their vehicle unattended for very short periods, and in this time the vehicles have been stolen,” Station Sergeant Evans said.

“Like many instances of theft, car theft is often a crime of opportunity. Even a car left unattended for a minute or two, whether it is to warm up in a garage or to defrost in a driveway, can be a target for thieves.

“While it is important to defrost vehicle windows and mirrors before heading off, you should never leave a running vehicle unattended.

“If you have to go back inside, always turn the engine off and lock the vehicle.”

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