The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Useful Tip For Drivers

I saw a young man the other week who had been charged with the attempted theft of an expensive car. As so often happens the owner had left his car unlocked and the keys in the ignition while he went to the kiosk to pay for his petrol. Looking out of the window he saw a young man getting into his car. He ran outside shouting for someone to call the police and found that the thief had locked himself in and was trying to start the engine. For reasons that I won't go into he didn't manage to start it, and was eventually arrested. In court he turned out to have a decade's worth of convictions (and he was only in his mid-twenties) mostly involving car crime or theft, sometimes both at once. He is currently on a driving ban and a community order, and his solicitor told us that this is going well. "Not well enough to stop him trying to nick a £30,000 motor" thought I.

He has previous for the sort of offences that suggest he has been in a good few chases in his time, and I imagine that he fancied trying out the latest offering from Bavaria. Our local traffic police have some smart new BMW 5-series, so the chase could have been on your TV in time for Chistmas - the Battle of the Beemers (with additional footage from the helicopter unit).

So, at the risk of sounding like Dixon of Dock Green (for the quarter of readers who are outside the UK, that was a Sixties TV series about an avuncular old copper who finished every episode with a short homily) lock your car while you pay for your fuel, won't you? And even if you don't lock it, at least take the keys out.

I saw a similar case a few years ago where a couple went to buy petrol, the man went to pay, and the woman thought:- "I'll just pop in to get some milk" and did so, leaving the keys behind. The opportunist lads who jumped in and screeched off decided to play dodgems with parked cars before the police arrived and the chase started (as it eventually did). The final bill for damage was upwards of £50,000, and if the owner's insurance policy is anything like mine, there is no cover for theft when the car is left unattended with the keys in it.

Mind how you go, now.