Third of vehicles broken into were left unlocked by owners

Half of thefts from cars in residential areas happen between midnight and 7am

The most common area where vehicles are broken into is the driveway. Photograph: Getty Images

One third of vehicles broken into in residential areas over the last three years were unlocked, according to new statistics from An Garda Síochána.

Out of 8,571 cases where valuables were stolen from vehicles parked in residential areas, 2,824 vehicles were left unlocked by their owners. Half of reported thefts occurred in the early hours of the morning, between midnight and 7am.

The most common area where vehicles were broken into was the driveway, according to an analysis of reported thefts between 2015 and 2017.

Dublin had the highest number of unlocked vehicles broken into, with 1,245 reported over the three years. The eastern region had 532, the south of the country had 411, followed by the western (261), northern (234), and south eastern region (141).


Across the country around €340,000 worth of property is stolen from cars and vans each year, stolen items commonly include laptops, cash, sunglasses, jewellery, tools, and sports gear.

Sgt Kelvin Courtney, of the garda crime prevention centre, said a large number of reported thefts from cars were avoidable, and owners should always lock their cars, park in well lit areas, and avoid leaving valuables in the vehicle.

In January this year 38 per cent of cars broken into were left unlocked by their owners, Sgt Courtney said. “We’ve even seen cases where two vehicles from the same household were unlocked and broken into” he said.

“Sometimes it is impractical to remove tools and equipment from vehicles. In these cases, owners should take extra steps to ensure the safety of their property. Additional locking mechanisms to vehicles should be fitted. Consider a monitored vehicle alarm and tracking devices for valuable property” Sgt Courtney advised.

In the majority of cases where the car is locked, criminals will use the owner’s car key to gain access to the vehicle, a garda spokesman said. Car keys are commonly obtained during a home burglary, and should not be left in the hallway or near the front door, gardaí warned.

Previously gardaí have come across cases where criminals used fishing rods with a magnet, pushed through the letterbox, to steal cars keys left near the front door.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times