Spot checks conducted for Autoglass on 1,000 cars in major retail centres across Britain found more than half (53%) had gifts or shopping bags on open display. Autoglass teamed up with police to try to prevent the 18% rise in thefts from cars that happens every Christmas.
Ian Carlisle, managing director of Autoglass, said: 'We need to remind fleet drivers to keep presents safe for Santa to deliver, rather than delivering them straight into the hands of thieves.'
Almost a quarter (24%) of the cars with shopping on show had steering, gear or wheel locks, or an alarm system installed. But their owners had not been security conscious enough to protect their new purchases as well.
Just one in 10 had made a quick attempt to disguise bags by throwing a jacket over them, rather than taking the time to lock them in the boot.
Carlisle added: 'The typical cost of a theft from a fleet car during the rest of the year is £521. That is likely to go up at Christmas and fleet managers must urge their drivers to take more care'
Autoglass and the Association of Chief Police Officers are now warning fleet drivers to follow a simple, 60-second checklist that police say could help slash the number of festive car crime attacks.
Sixty second anti-theft checklist
1. Don't opt for the nearest parking space when you're Christmas shopping – park in a well-lit, open location in public view or close to CCTV cameras - 15 seconds
2. If you can see your presents and valuables so can a thief. Take them with you or lock them in the boot or glove compartment - 15 seconds
3. Don't forget the thieves' usual targets. Stereos are the commonly stolen item. If detachable, remove the radio, or its front panel - 5 seconds
4. Lock all doors and the boot, close windows and shut the sunroof. Remove the ignition key every time you leave your car, even for the shortest of stops or when filling up with petrol - 10 seconds
5. Activate your alarm and electronic immobiliser and, if you have one, always use your steering lock or other security devices - 10 seconds
6. Leave windscreen wipers in the 'park' position to avoid mindless vandalism - 5 seconds