Working as a locksmith in Wolverhampton, I regularly attend the aftermath of car key burglaries where thieves have targeted the homes of performance and luxury car owners, taken the keys and driven off never to be seen again.
It doesn't take long working as a front line locksmith to see that car key thieves favour certain vehicles. I would say about 80% of the time the target is one of five vehicles.
At number five is the boy racers old favourite, the Subaru Impreza. Back in the day this car would have probably been number one on the list but is still a desirable target since a lot are highly modified and worth good money to a thief when broken up and sold as parts.
Well technically this is one of two vehicles, the M3/M5 made by BMW are another hot target for vehicle thieves. Working as an emergency locksmith I've seen that thieves have gone to great lengths to take these cars from dismantling automatic gates to the more worrying confrontation at gun point in the victims home...
Audi S3 is another favourite for vehicle thieves, the top 3 in this list are what I would describe as getaway vehicles, since they are often used later on by criminals to commit further crimes. High powered 4 door vehicles such as the S3 are desirable as they're pretty inconspicuous when debadged. I know Pat at Chichester Locksmiths has seen a few of these vanish this year.
Volkswagons Golf R comes in at number 2 for exactly the same reasons as the S3, in fact they're pretty much the same car. A fast hatchback with 4 doors is ideal as a getaway car for robberies and further burglaries. It's often stolen prior to more serious crimes and later abandoned.
This is the car targeted most often, by a country mile in fact, at least in the West Midlands area where I work as an emergency locksmith. Fords Focus RS is without a doubt the biggest target of car key burglars for all of the reasons discussed above, It's a fast potential getaway vehicle but also a favourite of car modders so always worth good money in parts too. If you own one of these I'd be very careful indeed.
Okay now that I have put the wind up everyone reading this that owns one of the aforemetioned vehicles I'm going to let you know the preferred method that crooks use for stealing your keys so that you can improve your home security and make your vehicle a tougher target.
Lock snapping is the most common method of car key burglary in the West Midlands and probably the UK. Older uPVC door locks are vulnerable to an attack called lock snapping that could see your door opened in under a minute by a seasoned crook. It can be performed with basic tools and is more often than not carried out during the night whilst the onwers are soundly asleep in bed. Frightening indeed!
Luckily relatively inexpensive lock and handle upgrades are available to make this much harder for opportunist thieves. A lot of insurance companies now specify this on insurance policies so it's worth investigating to ensure that you are covered against this should you be unlucky enough to have your vehicle stolen.
You can never have too many deterrents! A thief is always going to be looking for the easiest target so ensure that your vehicle and home are or at least look more of a risk than the next potential target. It's an obvious checklist really; cctv (real or dummy), alarms, good locks, visible detrrents such as dog signs, lockable gates, parking posts, security handles.... the list goes on.
As for where you decide to keep your keys is entirely your decision. I have heard some horror stories working as a local locksmith where intruders have actively come looking for the keys once inside the house. Some will advise to leave them in a visible place to avoid confrontation in this situation where others would prefer to lock them away and protect them. I sincerely hope that none of you reading are ever in this situation.
If you would like any advice on home security or would like a free security survey then I would advise you to check your local locksmith or security expert on http://www.nnll.org.uk or http://www.locksmith-directory.org.uk