Age of vehicle
'What would put you taking off a particular vehicle?' (n = 94)
cars, with some models as much as 10 times as likely to be stolen. As will be seen, offender responses in this study matched well with the daia coniained in the Index.
Similar to other studies, cars most often targeted by the current sample were 'easy to steal' (32%) and 'fast/performance cars' (36%). Others said they first took cars which were easy to steal, then, as they gained experience, moved on to high performance cars (17%):
At first it was just easy targets—Cortinas with sloppy locks and things. Then it moved on to getting just what I wanted—anything I fell like driving.
When asked which vehicle makes/models they were most attracted to, 43 per cent replied Fords, 15 per cent Vauxhalls and 10 per cent mentioned both—a combined total of 68 per cent:
I look for sporty types like XR2s, RS Turbos, two litre Cortinas, Escorts. I just walk around the streets at night.
That easy cars are targeted is not surprising; nor that fast /performance cars are wanted, much as they are by a large proportion of the young male population generally. The success of the car manufactures, media and advertising agencies in turning fast cars into objects of desire clearly affects not just potential customers, but also those who are barred from legitimate access to cars either for economic reasons or because they are below the legal age for driving.
Why do Fords and Vauxhalls feature so prominently in this and other studies even when the figures are adjusted to take account of the large numbers on Ihe road? Part of the answer seems to be that they are considered particularly easy to steal:
I just look for cars that are easy to nick—cars that aren't alarmed, general stuff like Fords and MGs and Austins that are easy to get into. Nissans,
Toyotas—mainly Japanese makes like Subaru are really hard to get into because they've got awkward locks.
As well as ease of theft, however, it may be that offenders have more knowledge of and feel more confident around makes such as Ford aod Vauxhall, which could be even more disproportionate in numbers in their rather poor home environments than on Ihe road generally. Other makes—for example for continental and Japanese manufacturers—are likely to b^e under-represented, which may reduce offender's confidence in their ability to/enter and start them.1 This view is reinforced by the fact that after Fords and Vauxhalls, Austin/ Morris cars were mentioned as easiest and most popular to steal. The prominence of particular models in less affluent locations has significance for the calculations coniained in the Index, since although adjustments were made for the over-representaiion of Fords and Vauxhalls on the road, this was a global rather than area-based calculation.
Data from Ihe Car Theft Index shows too that older makes—also likely to be over represented in the offender's home environment—are particularly vulner- able to car crime.
In sum, then, three types of car seem particularly at risk: first, older cars which may be easier to steal; secondly, familiar cars, with which offenders feel comfortable; and thirdly, performance/sporty cars which offenders would like to own if given ihe opportunity.
Crime prevention issues Vehicle security: locks
Methods of car theft matched those found in other studies. For this sample, the most common method of getting into cars was to force the door lock, using a screwdriver (53%) or keys (18%), (keys being more likely to be used by older offenders). Others were not specific about their technique for gaining entry (24%). Only two per cent said that they broke a window to get into a car—most presumably avoiding this because of the noise and the visible signal given to others, including the police, that the car had been stolen. Those who had were in the younger (15-17) age groups, reflecting their lack of expertise.
Many offenders expressed incredulity at the ease with which locks could be picked or forced using any key or a screwdriver:
Ford. Always a Ford—they are just so easy. The locks normally fall apart, (here's nothing to them.
The first car I nicked was a Vauxhall Viva, I opened it with my garage key, which surprised me.
1 For despite the view offered above, it seems thai locks on oiher, for example Japanese, makes are not objectively 'more awkward'.