Baby buggy theft is on the rise in Britain as designer models increase in value and cash-strapped parents are buying second-hand to save money, according to new research.
Buggy thefts have increased by almost a quarter since 2009, according to official police data obtained by LV= home insurance.
Thefts have risen from 738 in 2009 to 913 last year.
However, 42 per cent of parents who have had buggies stolen say they did not report the crime.
Therefore LV= estimates the figures could actually be much higher, with around 340,000 parents having had a buggy stolen, worth a total of £70 million.
The increase in thefts is attributed to the rising cost of buggies in recent years.
Popular buggies sell for £427 on average, with more desirable models costing upwards of £1,000 each.
The most targeted brands are Maclaren, Graco, Silver Cross, Chicco and Bugaboo.
‘Buggy black market’
As the cost of buggies increases, the research shows many parents are now choosing to buy used models to save money.
One in eight parents – 12 per cent - say their current model was purchased second-hand and more than a third of these were bought through online auctions.
One in 20 parents even admits they would turn a blind eye and buy a stolen buggy if the price was right.
Yet by doing so parents are effectively fuelling a "buggy black market" and making the problem worse, says LV=.
The figures reveal that most buggies are stolen from just outside the owner's home - nearly a quarter are taken from a porch or outbuilding.
Thefts from public parks, cafés, restaurants, pubs and the victims’ car are also common.
One in six buggy theft victims reported that their mobile phone was also stolen, while 13 per cent lost their handbag and 9 per cent lost a purse/wallet or MP3 player.
Parents often make the mistake of thinking they are automatically covered on their home insurance for theft away from the home when this is not the case, says LV=.
Personal possessions cover usually needs to be added to a policy to include cover for theft away from the home, meaning parents could be left out of pocket if their buggy is taken while out and about.
John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= home insurance, said: "Baby buggies have soared in value in recent years with some designer models costing as much as a small car.
"It is easy to forget about your valuables when minding a small child but parents need to take care that they don't fall victim to opportunistic thieves and ensure they have the correct insurance in place to cover them should the worst happen."