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| As a trusting group, we surfers often leave our car keys hidden near the car or under a wheel arch whilst surfing, especially now that most modern car keys are electronic and can't be taken into the sea and thieves have been taking advantage of this fact. |
Theft from vehicles in Devon and Cornwall alone in 2004, amounted to 10,879 reported crimes, with a detection rate of only 9.4%, so if your car gets ripped off chances are that your property is gone forever. Not all of these crimes were relating to surfers (as the police tend not to retain such detailed information for their published crime figures), however it is important to be aware of the problem and take necessary precautions.
The media are now becoming more aware of this being a specific problem to surfers. A BBC report in 2004 interviewed South Wales police following a crime wave of car thefts by thieves specifically targeting surfers. This BBC report highlighted that over 40 cases of surfer specific crimes at South Wales beach car parks were reported in 2004 (similar crimes were also reported right along the Welsh coast), where valuables including mobile phones, wallets and sometimes the cars themselves went missing! This was also followed by a report by GMTV in May 2005 reporting on a growing number of thefts from surfers cars in Cornwall.
We have also done some research into car crime relating to surfers by looking at: surfer internet forums, taking to surf shop owners, surf websites and asking surfers themselves and stories of theft are all too common. Thefts have been reported in the UK including South Wales, Norfolk, Scarborough, Devon and Cornwall and worldwide with cases in Australia, France, Spain and California both with boards being ripped off car roofs and car break ins. However in the UK, Newquay appears to be one of the crime hotspots.
The theory for Newquays high rate of surfer related crime is that thieves have recognised that there's a large number of resident and visiting surfers in the area and have started to come into the town and actually sit at surf spot parking areas waiting and watching as surfers "hide" their keys somewhere before going for a surf. We have heard several stories of surfboard straps being cut with a knife and boards stolen within seconds, with one case of a car actually parked outside a surf shop. It also appears that the cliff road at the top of South Fistral beach and the car parks at Watergate Bay have become two of the worst locations for thefts.
| || However it's not all bad news, as long as we are aware of the fact that our belongings are vulnerable to theft we can take the necessary precautions to limit our chances of becoming another police statistic. |
The most effective precaution to secure electronic car keys is to use a Keypod™ surf key safe and a LockJaw surfboard lock to protect the boards, but here are some other suggestions to limit the risks:
Unfortunately surfer related theft is a growing problem, but as long as you are aware of it and take some simple precautions you can prevent yourself becoming another statistic.
- It seems obvious, but don't leave your car keys unprotected or unattended!
- Use a Keypod™ key safe to secure your car keys. Keypod™ is a combination padlock with an integral cavity for storing your keys. It's big enough to hold pretty much every type of electronic key manufactured - including keyless car entry systems. The lid and shackle work in conjunction, so it's a matter of storing your key and locking the padlock somewhere safe. Click here to buy a Keypod™ Car Key Safe.
- Don't leave valuables on display in your car.
- Have a non-electronic key copy of your car key made which you could take in the water with you.
- There are some products designed to hold car keys in a waterproof pouch to place inside your wetsuit to take surfing with you.
- When leaving your surfboard on a roof rack, lock it! There are a few board lock products on the market and the LockJaw Surfboard Lock is one of the best. There's a universal fit which works with all surfboards fitted with a standard leash plug or there's one to fit centre fin boxes on longboards, mini-mals, retro boards etc.
- Try marking your surfboard with a UV security pen (which only cost around 1). Then put pressure on surf shops to check second hand surfboards with a UV light. It will also help police reclaim your board.
- Be aware when travelling and don't leave your surfboard lying around in the airport or at a cafe etc...lock it first
- Get travel insurance when abroad.
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