Is your vehicle a target for arsonists?
Is your car, van or motorbike an open invitation to thieves and arsonists? Richard Priest, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's community safety team, said: "Vehicles are targets for crime and therefore possible targets for arson. However, a little care and forethought can reduce the risk of them being stolen, and perhaps set on fire."
To reduce the risk or theft or arson, follow this simple checklist every time you leave your vehicle:
- At night, park in a well-lit place. Thieves like working in shadows, so avoid poorly-lit areas. In a ticket-exit car park, take the ticket with you and always try to use a secured car park.
- Don't leave the key in the ignition - not even for just a few seconds to go into your home, a shop or to pay for petrol.
- When you leave your vehicle, close windows. Don't forget the sun roof.
- Even when the vehicle is in your own drive or garage, lock it and take the keys with you.
- Thieves are opportunists, so they will probably move on to a vehicle without an anti-theft device fitted. Vehicle tracking systems can help trace your vehicle in the event of it being stolen.
- Report abandoned vehicles to your local authority or the police. Nearly half of vehicle arson occurs in abandoned vehicles. Reporting an abandoned vehicle could help someone else get their car back intact, and prevent an arson attack.
- Whenever possible, take your property with you when you leave the vehicle. Always ensure any belongings that you are travelling with are locked in the boot. In hatchbacks, the rear shelf should always be in position. In an estate car, cover property with a blanket.
- Keep keys in a secure place both at home and at work. Burglars have been known to break into houses and offices just to steal car keys. At home, don't be in the habit of leaving your keys close to the front door where they can be seen.
Every year in the UK around 93,000 road vehicles (or about 250 every day) go up in flames and about 75 people die as a result.
About 80 per cent of car fires are started deliberately to cover criminal activity or as an act of vandalism. One in 12 reported stolen vehicles will be set on fire.
Nearly half of all vehicle arson occurs in road vehicles that have previously been reported stolen.
Modern car interiors are largely composed of polymers, plastics and other synthetic materials - all of which are particularly flammable. The smoke and fumes from the outbreak of fire are highly toxic and can be deadly, if inhaled.