A car-theft racket is targeting Audi owners in Sydney’s north by breaking into the prestigious vehicles and stealing an emergency spare key the owners have left in the glove box.
Police said there had been 11 separate incidents within 24 hours in the city’s northern suburbs of Audis being broken into, where thieves smash a window and then take the spare key.
Newer Audi models come equipped with a plastic spare key for emergency use. The key can be used to manually unlock the doors and start the car.
Harbourside crime manager, Detective Inspector Mike Birley, said the Audi-related thefts were becoming something of a trend.
“It’s easy for them to take the spare sets of keys from the cars and then potentially come and steal the cars later on,” said Detective Inspector Birley.
He said the gang of thieves responsible for the break-ins were themselves driving around in a stolen Audi.
They were spotted last Thursday on the streets of Mosman at 7pm and police gave chase but the pursuit had to be halted due to safety concerns.
The “valet or service key” should never be left in a locked vehicle, said Audi spokesman, Shaun Cleary.
The Audi website warns customers that storing a spare key anywhere inside the vehicle is a security risk and that “there may also be insurance implications if your vehicle is stolen and it was discovered that a spare key was inside at the time.”
Mr Cleary said that the safety and security of the company’s customers are its top priority and Audi dealers are providing additional advice to their customers on how to ensure that their vehicle is safe.
Similar Audi-related thefts have also recently occurred in Melbourne and Britain.
Robert McDonald from NRMA Insurance said the spare key was designed to be used in emergency and should be kept in “your wallet or another secure location”.
He said thieves were opportunistic and, in addition to removing spare sets of keys from inside the vehicle, motorists should follow a number of tips to protect their car from theft.
Mr McDonald recommended that motorists always lock their car when it is unattended, remove GPS devices from the windscreen and wipe off suction marks, remove visible loose change from inside the vehicle and use security devices such as steering wheel locks and immobilisers.