You’re out for the day. You’ve gone on a ride with your children, leaving your pushchair parked with others in full view. When you get back, your lovely pushchair has been replaced with a grotty old one – fit for the dump.
Looking on Mumsnet, you’ll read lots of stories like these. Parents have lost buggies from cafes, preschools, soft play centres, even from outside their front door, with the door open, the doctor’s surgery, luggage racks on trains and the locked boot of the car.
Now Spring’s here, we’re all out and about more. Quite rightly our first thought shouldn’t be whether our buggy is going to be nicked. But read on and find out why keeping it safe might need to be your second thought…
Buggy theft is big business
Second hand buggies – especially the popular brands like Bugaboo, Silver Cross, Maclaren, Chicco and Graco are a hot target for thieves. It’s a simple crime, as Paul Baines, one of the police officers behind the My Buggy Buddy range explains: “It’s so easy to walk off with a buggy without arousing suspicion. It’s difficult to detect the crime and the rewards are potentially very high, especially with the top brands.”
Buggy thieves are very confident, casually strolling off with your buggy and acting ‘genuinely’ outraged if you challenge them. In this situation, interestingly, most parents tend to back down and assume they’ve made a mistake.
Stolen pushchairs – some of them worth £1,000 end up on Gumtree, ebay or Facebook and are sold for hundreds of pounds. A quick search on ebay shows a thriving second hand market. There’s no reason to suspect any of these buggies are stolen but if they are, thieves are pocketing a tidy profit for very little effort.
Do I really need to worry about buggy theft?
No one knows the exact scale of the buggy theft problem because most parents don’t report their loss to the police, or claim on their insurance.
However, according to a Daily Telegraph article in 2013 the black market in stolen pushchairs was worth £60million. In the same year, The Daily Mail reported that LV paid out £70million in insurance claims for stolen buggies. The company estimated that 340,000 parents with children under 5 had lost buggies in this way.
No one thinks it’s going to happen to them but when it does, the financial and emotional fall-out can be huge. Not only have you lost your buggy and possibly your car seat. You might also have lost your changing bag and its contents, plus a favourite toy or comforter. Parents report that having a pushchair stolen feels personal and more upsetting because their child’s wellbeing is involved.
5 tips to avoid buggy theft
Paul from My Buggy Buddy advises: “Since it’s hard to catch buggy thieves in the act, the best thing parents can do, is to make it a lot more difficult for them.” And here’s how:
1. Lock it up. Get a pram lock and keep it in the buggy at all times. We need to adopt the same mindset with pushchairs as we do with bikes, phones and other expensive items. We’d never expect to leave these unattended in a public place. To a thief, buggies represent easy money; they don’t care about the morals of taking a child’s buggy, or how difficult it makes your life. If you can’t lock your pushchair to something, just lock the wheel. This deters the thief because they’ll have to carry the buggy away, which will look odd and attract attention. They will also be much easier to spot on CCTV.
2. Make it stand out. You may not want to permanently decorate your pushchair but tying a balloon or a flag around the handle in a busy place will make it less attractive to thieves and easier to spot, should it go walkabout.
3. Cover it up in the car. Just as you wouldn’t leave a laptop in full view, your pram needs to be out of sight under the rear shelf. Preferably, don’t leave it in the car at all.
4. The porch is not a safe place. Some chancers regard your front porch as fair game, or where unwanted items are left out, for people to help themselves. To avoid any ‘confusion’ of this kind, take the buggy inside.
5. Leave more time. When you’re in a rush, trying to be on time and not forget anything, it’s easy to ditch the buggy and hope for the best. Arriving a bit earlier and finding a secure place to lock and leave your buggy will really pay off.
Which is the best pram lock?
At Hippychick, we still prefer the original My Buggy Buddy lock designed by two police officers. They aren’t just any police officers, mind you. Both of them (helpfully called Paul) have many years of front line experience. They’ve seen it all and as parents themselves, they know what works and what’s going to deter a criminal.
The My Buggy Buddy Pram Lock ticks the boxes for us because it has a dual function: it locks up your pram with your bags and it works as a simple pram clip for shopping. It’s practical and purpose-made for parents’ needs. Unlike a bike lock, it’s compact and when you need to lock the buggy to railings, a bike rack or through the wheel, it has a simple combination lock.
Is it worth buying a pram lock?
A My Buggy Buddy lock costs £8.95. When you consider the value of your buggy and the cost and hassle of replacing it, claiming on your insurance, the paperwork and the more paperwork – we reckon it’s a no-brainer.