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Recent car thefts


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Seems there have been several posts on this and other forums about stolen antique cars. I just went to a Concours event yesterday. In the parking lot, there were about a dozen antique cars. Half had windows fully open and tops down on convertibles. This doesn't seem too bright to me.

If I cannot see my car at all times when I am at a show, windows are fully closed, and it is locked. I really don't care if that annoys some spectators, or if people with much more expensive cars with windows left wide open are laughing at me. And yes a really determined experienced thief could still steal it, but at least it keeps it from getting damaged by careless people, or being an easy target for amateurs. And I won't be kicking myself for leaving it wide open if it did get stolen.

Of course there are open cars (pre-1930's with no side windows for example) that cannot be closed and locked. In that case, Ithink I would have second thoughts about taking it somewhere that I couldn't keep an eye on it.

An ounce of prevention.....

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Amen brother!!!

The Concours of America in Plymouth MI (formerly Meadowbrook) sets aside an area for 'club cars' and offers a discount pre-purchase admission.

Members of many different clubs utilize this area with their vintage cars - more secure, closer to the entrance and a nice display for other participants too.

I prefer to NEVER leave my vintage cars in a standard parking lot if at all possible. In the rare event I do (on a tour, at an away show, etc) I will usually disable the car in some manner along with trying to park in a very visible area, if a restaurant request seating overlooking my car, if a hotel park as close to the entrance as possible, etc.

No, not paranoid, just trying to be prudent.

Edited by YellowBird (see edit history)
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Wickets, Wine & Wheels

June 2010

Location - Meadowbrook Hall, Rochester Michigan

Not just any car show, but a premier event at a beautiful and exclusive location for selected early vehicles.

Well dressed and apparently well-to-do woman holding full glass of red wine reached through my front window to unlock the rear door on my Cadillac limousine. She then proceeded to climb in to 'look at something' nearly spilling her wine on my carpet.

Her and her other well dressed friend along with two 'gentlemen' accompanying them could not figure out why I was upset. They paid their admission, wasn't it their right to view the vehicles (from the inside)?

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Another time sitting INSIDE a LaSalle sedan with the owner and another friend leaving one empty set a man walking past opened the door, climbed in and proceeded to join our conversation. He admired the car, asked a few questions then got out and walked away. I thought this person was a friend of the owner. The owner thought our visitor was a friend of mine. Nope, just a stranger who decided to sit inside someone's vintage car.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I display my vehicles at a variety of car shows, cruise nights and club events. Very often I observe persons trying to open the doors of my car and find fingerprints showing the same behavior. If I see them I will ask what they are doing and why. Have never heard a plausible or intelligent response yet.

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A lot of people just don't comprehend what it takes to put a show car together and keep it looking nice. Like Yellowbird said, some think because they paid admission, they have the right to do whatever they want. I came back to my truck one time to find two kids taking the radio knobs off - and mom standing there watching them do it! She told me the guy at the gate said it was okay to get in any of the vehicles. Of course, she wouldn't tell me which guy, or what gate...

As for vehicles being stolen, I guess I'm too trusting. In a parking lot, I leave my doors unlocked and the windows open. I figure there's nothing in it to steal, and the morons who steal cars wouldn't be able to figure out a stomp starter, anyway. Those who target show cars are more likely to be professionals, and I doubt a locked door could deter them.

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We always assign "watchers" around our cars at shows or events because some of us have parts on our cars that cannot be replaced. Sometimes all it takes is for a group to take turns watching and no cars or radiator caps will be stolen.

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if i thought i had to lock my car on a show field i wouldnt attend that show.

At the Concours I was referring to, the open, unlocked antique cars were in the same regular parking lot as the daily driver we took (which was closed and locked). At no time during the show were we able to see our car or the antiques parked around it. Seems extremely unwise to leave any car unattended and wide open like this. Anybody could have sat in or taken or damaged the cars or things in them, and no one would have known until it was too late.

Years ago I had my 1979 Cartier at a show. I was by the car the entire day except for about 10-15 minutes. When I returned, all six positions of the power seat were changed, rearview mirror was moved, and the tilt wheel was moved. The tilt wheel is not obvious or labeled, and could only be operated by someone familiar with how it works on 1970's mid-full size Ford products. So this was not done by some kid or even random adult. It was done by someone that should know better. There was no damage or anything stolen, but there could have been. So my car has been closed and locked anytime it is unattended ever since then, even on a showfield with security. They can't watch everything.

Plus the Givenchy attracts people that seem to feel the need to "pet" the velour seats. Must be something with the combination of ultra-bright aqua and super plush velour because I have never experienced this with any other car before. I have spent about 100 hours (not exaggerating) shampooing the interior. I do not need to return to find mustard, ketchup, and ice cream stains from sticky fingers all over the seats. It was just at another show with security yesterday. Everything else was wide open, and I actually debated leaving it that way as well. But I figured I would be nowhere around it all day. So it was left closed and locked. I felt bad that no one could see the interior very well with the windows up. But it had fingerprints all over the windows and door handles at the end of the day. So I was glad I locked it.

It also has parts that are nearly impossible to replace, especially some fragile interior trim pieces. I do not have a machine shop in my garage to recreate these parts or a blank check to take it someplace to fix or replace everything. If others do, or are simply willing to take the risk, that is their choice. However, I see no reason to tempt fate.

I am happy to open doors, or even on rare occasions, let someone sit in it if they express interest in it. But as others have mentioned, it seems more and more common for someone at a car show to feel they have the right to touch, sit in, or play with things on cars at a show because they think the cars are there for their entertainment. And even with an experienced theif, it is easier to steal a wide open car than a closed and locked one.

Edited by LINC400 (see edit history)
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I NEVER lock any convert I have ('cept the Skyliner) because if they want in they will get in. I had a survivor '66 DeVille ragtop that I had locked, the thief happend to have a master key in the shape of a pocket knife. He chose to cut a hole big enough to crawl into the car instead of big enough to reach in and unlock the door. They stole the bag of things from under the seat. The cost of theose things was about $30 and the top was priceless as it was original and perfect.

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I NEVER lock any convert I have ('cept the Skyliner) because if they want in they will get in. I had a survivor '66 DeVille ragtop that I had locked, the thief happend to have a master key in the shape of a pocket knife. He chose to cut a hole big enough to crawl into the car instead of big enough to reach in and unlock the door. They stole the bag of things from under the seat. The cost of theose things was about $30 and the top was priceless as it was original and perfect.

I guess that is an additional thing you would need to consider with a convertible, and would need to decide whether your car is at risk of encountering someone with a knife where it is parked. On a showfield, I don't think too many people would start cutting a hole in the top and climbing in for risk of being seen. Seeing someone entering an unlocked car might not raise any suspicions, but seeing someone slice open a top and climb in certainly should. On the street or in a parking lot, it might be more at risk for that with no witnesses around.

People could break windows on a closed car as well. But I think in general, closed and locked is generally much safer than not.

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Many good thoughts from this thread. I usually show my car with the doors open {if I have room },because it has running boards and I would rather a child see in than climb on the running board to see in. Usually I never stray too far from my car at a show. I too have on occasion let people get in and snap a photo. You can always tell those who are "safe" to do this. My car would be pretty hard to steal at a show because I take out the battery and put in the dummy show battery. { don't get on me about that, I'm not going to stop }. As far as people laughing at someone for having their doors locked at a show; I feel that you have the right to be as particular about your own vehicle as you want too. I have found the respectful spectators way outnumber the clods. But I have no problem with someone doing with their vehicle as they see fit.

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My daily driver is a 93 Oldsmobile, and one morning when I went to get in it (in my driveway) to go to work, I noticed that some idiot had popped the lock and broke in and stole about $5 in change, but did several hundred dollars worth of damage in the process. I decided to never lock my car when at home, and make sure that there is NOTHING of value inside to be taken. If a professional wants a car bad enough, he'll get it. My concern is with the idiots with nothing better to do. Now, my 37 Pontiac is a different story. That never leaves my sight when away from home.

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My daily driver is a 93 Oldsmobile, and one morning when I went to get in it (in my driveway) to go to work, I noticed that some idiot had popped the lock and broke in and stole about $5 in change, but did several hundred dollars worth of damage in the process. I decided to never lock my car when at home, and make sure that there is NOTHING of value inside to be taken. If a professional wants a car bad enough, he'll get it. My concern is with the idiots with nothing better to do. Now, my 37 Pontiac is a different story. That never leaves my sight when away from home.

Again, I still think locked is much safer than unlocked. One idiot can do damage trying to break in. But if it is unlocked, that means anybody at anytime can get in. There might not be anything valuable left in the car, but than doesn't mean they can't steal radios, interior trim pieces, bolt on options or accessories, underhood parts (if you have an inside hood release), and they can do plenty of damage trying to remove parts from an unlocked car. They can also just simply vandalize the interior after finding nothing of value.

I would also think that unless they are really determined to get into your specific car, idiots, amateurs, and professionals would all rather look for an easier unlocked target.

Also, nothing wrong with those who do, but I do not go to a car show to sit in a lawn chair next to my car the entire day. I go to see the other cars. If I felt that I could not safely leave my car unattended at a show for any length of time with the doors locked, I would leave that show.

Edited by LINC400 (see edit history)
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I drove my 55 sunliner to Daytona last november and I had a hard time sleeping with it sitting outside at the motel,it was not locked and nothing valuable in it.

Did you disconnect the battery or remove the coil wire?

A hidden kill switch or gas cut off is also easy to install.

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Bamford's Garage,

The sign in the window of the car should have said:

PLEASE TOUCH

And feel free to slip inside for a closer look!

(the skunk is named Polecat and the wolverine hasn't had his rabies shots yet)

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I'll tell you what, my son had his I-phone stolen from a punk kid at the park. I always knew you could track the I phone via GPS but never tried it out until this happened. I was able to track the phone right to the front door of this kids house! Long story short, we got the phone back ;)

Point of the story..... hide your smart phone in your car during those overnight car show trips for instant GPS tracking from any internet source. Every little bit helps :cool:

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