DESIGNER buggies have become a status symbol in recent years for parents anxious to give the best to their much-loved babies.
But now these expensive early years status symbols are also a “must-have” item for thieves – who have created a “buggy black market” in Edinburgh.
New figures today revealed dozens are stolen in the Capital, often from outside homes and shops.
Parenting groups highlighted the problem of “desirable” buggies being stolen for their high resale value as cash-strapped parents buy second-hand on internet sites – such as Gumtree and eBay – to save money.
And with some pushchairs and travel systems costing as much as £2000, top brands such as Bugaboo, Silver Cross, iCandy and Quinny have fuelled a UK-wide trade in stolen buggies.
According to police figures, the theft of designer pushchairs has risen by 23 per cent across Britain since 2009.
Some of the thefts in Edinburgh have been carried out at stores such as Mothercare and Toys ‘R’ Us. But the majority have been stolen after being left out in the street by parents.
Tina Woolnough, spokeswoman for the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said: “When economic times are difficult, things of high value become more desirable and expensive prams and buggies fall into that category. They would have a resale value which would be attractive to thieves.
“In many cases, the buggies stolen will have been left outside shops. I would encourage parents to make this an issue for shops to encourage them to make it easier to take buggies inside, or at least have somewhere safe where they could be overseen.
“Many of the stolen buggies would find themselves up for sale on sites like Gumtree and eBay. Parents are not going to be aware that they are buying stolen property.
“A lot of parents want to buy the best for their babies, and that can appear to mean the most expensive. These buggies are obviously mobile so that makes them easier to steal for opportunistic thieves.”
A total of 102 buggies were reported stolen to police in Edinburgh between 2008 and November last year. Across the rest of the Lothians, Haddington, Dalkeith, Livingston and Bathgate were among the other areas where buggy thieves have been active.
A spokesman for consumer body Which? said: “The average spend on a popular pushchair is around £427 today, 20 per cent more than around three years ago.
“Figures reveal that most buggies are stolen from outside people’s houses, such as in the porch or outbuilding. Many are also stolen from public parks, car parks and restaurants, often containing handbags with valuable contents such as mobile phones.”
The spokesman added that parents can invest in a pushchair lock to deter thieves.
A police spokesman said: “Police in Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders are committed to tackling acquisitive crime and local officers work closely with their communities to offer crime prevention advice and recommend security measures, which help deter thefts.
Thieves attracted to soaring resale value
THE buggy brands most targeted by thieves are Maclaren, Graco, Silver Cross, Chicco and Bugaboo, according to research by insurance firm LV=.
The firm said one in 14 parents have had a buggy stolen in the UK, but 42 per cent did not inform police, suggesting the crime goes vastly under-reported.
Their research found one in eight parents said their model was bought second-hand. The pushchair most commonly stolen is the Maclaren Techno Stroller, left, – at £300 new.Prices have risen steeply, with the Bugaboo Cameleon3 Pushchair, below, at £799 and a Stokke Crusi Tandem Pushchair with Stroller, Carrycot and Sibling Seat at £1417.
John O’Roarke, managing director of LV=, said their value, “combined with the fact they can easily be sold on,” to cash-strapped parents, has fuelled a “black market”.