Leaving your car unlocked

Imagine that you live in a parallel universe where everybody owns a car. Not just rich people; everybody. You’re actually born with a car. If you want to travel anywhere, you absolutely have to bring the car with you. Leaving it behind in a secure place is absolutely not an option, ever.

There’s no way of locking your car, no way of even removing the key from the ignition. But it’s sort of OK, because that’s just how things are. Anyway, there’s a widespread understanding that stealing someone’s car is one of the worst things you can possibly do to them, and that decent people would never do it. Roughly half the world’s population have never worried at all about the possibility of having their car stolen. Of the other half, perhaps a third have had their car stolen. But the funny thing about this parallel universe is that the vast majority of thefts actually happen to cars inside locked garages, where you’d think they would be at their most secure. And most car thefts are perpetrated by friends and relatives of the car owner, people the owner could be expected to trust.

Some people are under huge social pressure to bring their car everywhere, to make it visible, to modify it so it makes more noise. Other people are under huge social pressure to stay at home with their cars and hide them if possible – but oddly, they’re the ones more likely to have them stolen.

Despite widespread agreement that car theft is a terrible thing, there’s a very low conviction rate for it. When you head out to meet friends in your car, you always know there’s a chance that your car will be stolen and that the thief will get away with it. But you have no way of preventing this, not even if you hide away at home – especially if you hide away at home.

Your choice isn’t between possibly getting your car stolen and definitely not getting your car stolen. Your choice is between living your life (and possibly getting your car stolen) or living a grey, ghostly husk of a boxed-in life, full of fear (and still possibly getting your car stolen). You choose the former option and you go out, with your car.

In that parallel universe, Mia Freedman’s comparison between leaving your car unlocked and walking home at night after a few drinks would be valid. But in the universe we actually live in, it’s victim-blaming bullshit.

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