There can be few worse feelings than discovering that your car has been stolen: that sinking feeling as you envisage your pride and joy being abused at the hands of some hooded ne’er-do-well.
For most, the story ends either with the car never being seen again, or eventually recovered by the police sporting bruised bodywork or worse. For one teenager in Oldham, however, having his car stolen worked out in his favour.
Seventeen-year-old Alex Cooper was initially distraught to find his Vauxhall Corsa had been lifted from outside his workplace, fearing he’d never see his first car ever again.
However, it turned out the thief was a more careful driver and was unwittingly improving Alex’s driver safety rating with his insurance company.
The youngster – like many first-time drivers across the country – had installed a ‘black box’ device to allow his insurers to monitor his driving, with the potential for discounts on premiums for safe and careful motoring.
"We laughed when we found it had been driven so carefully. We can only think they've driven like that to not arouse suspicion."
The telematics-based systems monitor variables such as throttle inputs, braking severity and overall smoothness, and give a score for each journey. They can also be used to monitor when and where a car is being used, should a younger driver choose to have restrictions (e.g. not driving at night) imposed for a cheaper deal.
After Alex had recovered his Corsa just three hours after it went missing, he discovered via a phone app that the thief had scored a perfect 10 out of 10 for safe driving before abandoning the car.
The teen himself only managed a score of 7.9 on his daily commute. The bonus points will potentially allow Alex to earn cash back from his insurers.
Even better, the company in question, Carrot, has told him he’ll be allowed to keep the thief’s high score on his driving record.
However, the Corsa did suffer some damage at the hands of its temporary custodian, with Alex likely to have to fork out a significant excess to repair a smashed passenger-side window and a broken ignition barrel.
Alex currently pays a whopping £2,400 a year for cover on the Corsa, which is owned by his mother Kimberley.
Speaking to the Mirror, she said: "We were absolutely mortified, it's our pride and joy. But we laughed when we found it had been driven so carefully. We can only think they've driven like that to not arouse suspicion."
Police are yet to make any arrests in connection with the theft.