Theft at a car wash: it's a real thing

Car theft comes as no surprise to South Africans; it’s one of the reasons we have car insurance.  You’re probably aware of  hijacking and remote jamming, but have you heard of theft from a car wash?

Over the last year, theft at a car wash has become an increasingly popular trend.

Capitalising on unattended vehicles whose drivers have leave their cars at the washbay while they attend to other errands, criminals falsely identify themselves as the owner of the vehicle – and drive off in plain sight.

So, before you set off on a Saturday shopping spree and leave your car in the supposedly safe hands of a car wash, exercise caution to avoid the inconvenience of not having a car to get you around:

  • Budget your time for the waitAs tempting and irresistible as it could be to check your car into the carwash on a Saturday before heading off to do your weekend shopping, consider the opportunity you are creating for opportunistic criminals. Rather budget your time to allow you to wait for your car and ensure its safety. A busy mall means a flurry of customers, making it less easy for car wash owners to remember the identity of every vehicle owner.
  • Rather be safe than sorry. If you are unable to check your car in for a wash during a less crowded time or plan your day to allow you some time to wait for it to be washed, be sure to let the car wash owner know that you will be collecting the vehicle yourself and not sending anyone else to do so on your behalf. Checking up on the car wash’s collection procedure won’t hurt either. Be sure to know what kind of identification is needed in order to collect the vehicle before handing over your keys.
  • Understand the risk. Many car wash businesses do not have their own insurance in place to cover damage or theft – which unfortunately means that as a customer, you are basically leaving your car in their hands at your own risk. While you may have insurance for your car, it won’t hurt to ask what kind of insurance the business has. It is important that you understand the risks and consequences of leaving your car “unmanned”.
  • Check that you are adequately covered. Frequently checking your insurance policy is good practice - this way you will understand the terms of your car insurance cover and know whether or not your cover extends to such thefts at a car wash.

There may only be so much that you can do to protect yourself and your belongings, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Keep in mind that if your car is still financed by the bank and you are not adequately insured, you will not only need to replace it, but also continue to pay your existing monthly installments. Is that worth the inconvenience of giving your car a good scrub in the driveway or waiting for it to be scrubbed clean? Next time you visit the car wash, why not use the time to do an online quote or use the MiWay App to update your policy details?

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