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Leeds nostalgia: Prolific car thief from 1976 ‘preferred Cortinas’... and reveals most were unlocked with keys in

CORTINA MK IV of 1977 with its ancestors
CORTINA MK IV of 1977 with its ancestors
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It was not unusual in 1976 to leave your car unlocked and the keys inside. After all, at least you knew where everything was.

The problem was, so did thieves.

The number of cars reported stolen in Leeds in the first 20 days of January 1976 was 79. Most were later found in other parts of the city and were thought to have been taken by joyriders. Ford was the most popular model for thieves.

On February 4, 1976, one prolific car thief related how most of the cars he stole were left unlocked with the keys in.

The 19-year-old said: “I love cars, especially Cortinas. They were all open and all had the keys in. I never broke into them.”

The thief, who stole 18 cars over several months (eight of them Cortinas, for which he had a passion), added he had not damaged any of the cars he stole. During the court case, he asked for 17 other offences to be taken into consideration.