Just to make one thing clear: I hate thieves just as much as you do! But I do believe that with God’s help every person has the power to change. Jack is one of those guys. I met him last Sunday, at church. He is a reformed con-man who is now working with the Police to apprehend small criminals and to raise awareness among fellow citizens like me and you. He agreed to write this article for us:
By Jack Turner
Like every criminal before me, I started small. The first item I ever stole was a book on how to perform magic which I blatantly picked up off a bookshelf and walked out the store with. The irony of openly thieving an item which dealt primarily with the subtle concealing of items from the human eye was not lost on me, and in fact, this incident affected and “altered” my adult life in more ways than one.
Firstly, I grew up to become a professional magician. And secondly, I grew up to be a professional thief.
I used sleight of hand to take items from shops and pick-pocketing techniques. The concepts of illusion and corrupt behavior became interlinked in my head, and evolved into the point where I became a fully-fledged criminal. Small items became big items, and big items became bigger items. It reached the point where myself and several accomplices were stealing two or three cars a week without even thinking about the people that we were stealing from.
Luckily, those days are over for me now. But I learnt a few things during this time. After all, no one gives better anti-criminal advice than the criminal himself. Please, use the following information to keep your vehicle and possessions as safe as possible.
What is Thieve’s Kryptonite?
First and foremost – a thief will check the security of the car. Is it going to be a quick job? Is it too risky? Is it worth the time? Anti-theft devices are a car thief’s kryptonite. They definitely live up to their name. If a thief sees a blinking car alarm, a steering lock, or a sign saying the car is fitted with a tracker, he’s out of there, no questions asked.
Why? Because there’s a hundred similar cars without these restrictions. A thief is looking for convenience and maximum gain from minimum effort. Anti-theft devices are your best friend.
Where to Hide Your Belongings?
Of course, it’s not just about the car itself. In fact, the items inside are often lot more attractive to a potential thief than the car. Minor things like spare change, tools, cables, cigarettes or briefcases are all attractive targets. It would take a competent thief around 10 seconds to be in and out of your passenger side window and be away with your items. Keep your car as empty as possible.
If you do have to leave items in your car overnight, keep them in your boot. Boot locks are nearly impossible to pick and take a long time to jack open – time which thieves don’t have.
Let there be light
“The day is for honest men, the night for thieves”. If a car was well-lit under a streetlamp or in front of a porch light, a thief wouldn’t go anywhere near it. Use light to your advantage whenever possible. If you have a motion sensor light outside of your home, be sure it it’s placed high enough that someone couldn’t simply unscrew the bulb. This also applies to security cameras or any kind of proximity sensor you might have in place.
Where to Never Hold Your Car Keys
Despite what movies would have you believe, ‘hot-wiring’ doesn’t really work on modern cars. It’s the main method of stealing older cars (think pre-2005) but modern vehicles have a chip in the key fob which is required to start the ignition. However, obtaining your keys is easier than you think. I personally used to pickpocket people in crowded areas for their keys. The majority of males will keep their car keys in the trouser pocket on their dominant side (hence, I would target male’s right hand pockets since that’s the majority) and females in their handbags. Pickpockets know this so change your habits.
Interesting thought: Where do you usually keep your car keys while you’re shopping for example?
I also used a particular insidious method when performing magic in pubs. I would ask to borrow a “personal item” from a spectator, and it was often car keys. I’d then covertly press the unlock button and an accomplice of mine outside would locate the car and fence any goods inside. Moral of the story: never let your keys out of your sight. Even to people who appear to be harmless.
How Much Time Does a Thief Need to Steel a Car?
It takes around ten seconds for someone to break into your car and be gone. A friend of mine left her engine running one morning while she “popped into her house” to pick something up. When she came back, her car was gone. She claims she was “in the house only for a minute”, so I had to explain that a professional thief could steal her car six times by that point. Never leave your engine running.
Why You Need to Keep Your Car Well Maintained?
The psychological implications of keeping your car in good condition is that it sends an image of admiration. If it’s clear the owner cares about the car, then there’s most likely security measures in place. This also means the opposite is true. An untidy car suggests sloppy security measures, making it a more likely target.
Parking Arrangements – How to Park Your Car To Never Get Stolen?
Despite general consensus, it’s rare to get your car stolen from a public car park. After all, they’re well lit, they’re busy and there’s usually always cameras nearby. Three huge deterrents for any budding car thief. Just to be safe, however, park with your wheels either turned towards another car (on a car park) or towards the curb (on a road).
If it does happen, chances are that the person was targeted in particular and was observed for an extended period of time prior to the theft. This is a profiling technique used by the police and criminals are aware of. So, given all these factors, car parks (supermarkets in particular) are one of the safest places to leave your vehicle.
Despite this, vandalism is prominent in car parks due to the casual nature of people in close proximity with multiple vehicles. However, similar rules apply to avoid vandalism: park in well-lit areas near cameras, invest in an alarm, be near other vehicles, and don’t park across two spaces at once (there are a lot of have-a-go vigilantes out there).
Lock, Seal, Secure
Lock your doors. Shut your windows. Close your sunroofs. Sounds obvious, right? Well, the numbers don’t lie. Carjacking crimes increase in the summer months due to the amount of people who leave their windows open. Sure, your car might be a bit cooler when you get in, but it’s not worth losing your stereo over.
Please remember, even though you’ve taken all reasonable measures to ensure your car’s safety, theft can still happen. If it does happen, be assured that it’s not your fault. It’s entirely the fault of people like I was … who act out of desperation, immorality and envy. I’m happy to say that this lifestyle is well and truly behind me, and I’m attempting to make amends for years of wrongdoings by helping people not get caught out by crimes which can be deterred.
Stay safe, stay well-lit, and keep your keys secure.
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I agree with all of the points made, EXCEPT the one about the boot (trunk to we Yanks) lock. I’m no criminal, but I’ve certainly earned my share of old clunkers.
If you place a large flat blade screwdriver against the lock cylinder and give it a really good whack with a decent-sized hammer, you’ll bend the sheet metal abut and also break the retainer that holds the lock cylinder to the sheet metal, driving the entire lock cylinder assembly into the trunk. You can then use a smaller flat blade screwdriver to turn the latch mechanism and open the trunk.
It takes about 5 seconds and, except for the one hammer blow, is completely silent. It even appears as if you’re fumbling with the keys to open the trunk legally.
I’d say it’s an ‘out of sight, out of mind prospect.
What is the purpose of parking with your wheels turned toward the next car or curb? If they are stealing it anyway, what advantage if any does that provide?
Possibly to prevent pushing it , or towing it in a straight direction…..down the street or onto a trailer ?
If you have to leave your car for an extended time in a spot you are not familiar with, why not carry a spare flat tire with you? Who wants to steal a car with a flat on it?
That’s good, I like that. why not carry a small air pump? Deflate the tire and reinflate it when you’re ready to leave. How about a trash trunk? Loose bundle to papers in the truck bed. Keep it in a box wit a lid till you need to stop. Hide the lid. Some kid steals the truck and in 5 minutes, the cops have him pulled over.
Hey Jack! My name is Olivia and I am a producer with NBC News. Would you be able to shoot me an e-mail when you get a chance?