"Who would steal a buggy?!" is probably the most PG response I've had when telling people that ours was stolen. Other responses have usually included the words 'bastards' and 'cunts'. But buggy theft is a thing and - although the police officer I reported it to was incredulous about it and our insurers told me it wasn't something they deal with very often - a quick Google search has shown than it seems to be on the rise.
You probably don't need to be told how expensive buggies are. We spent more on ours (a Silver Cross Wayfarer travel system) than I'd ever spent on a car*. But for something that's used daily the expense is justifiable and almost, in time, forgotten - we certainly became complacent about ours as it became such a part of everyday life for the four years we had it.
But thieves aren't blind to the monetary value of things. A check on resale sites shows just how much second-hand buggies can fetch. Even if they're sold off quickly at a less-than-market price, they command an easy couple of hundred quid.
Our buggy was taken from our kids' nursery. There's a gated buggy park where we, and all the other other parents, leave the pushchairs from drop-off until pick-up. It's overlooked by the office staff, is always full and had previously felt very safe. But two women walked in off the street a week ago and walked out with two buggies - ours and our friend's Bugaboo. We know it was two women because CCTV caught clear footage of them - although whether or not the police will actively search them out is another thing. At a time when the police are seriously underfunded and the biggest challenge faced by London seems to be rising knife crime and organised terror, a couple of buggies won't be top of any officer's 'to do' list.
Our insurers are paying out for our loss, but any parent will probably agree that it's not about the money. It's about someone taking something that belongs to your children. It's about losing a thing that has played such a big part in their early years, something that's kept them safe, warm, dry and comfortable. Something that was covered in their sticky mess and 'customised' by their pen scribbles. "It's only stuff" is what I say over and over again - and it's true - but it's stuff that we shouldn't have taken from us.
I've now bought a buggy lock to use whenever I have to leave our (second-hand, not as nice!) buggy unattended. If I've learnt anything, it's to be cautious and do whatever you can to at least deter a would-be thief. It sounds selfish, but even if just locking the wheel makes our buggy that little bit more difficult to steal so that they choose to take someone's else's, that's worth it. I'd recommend anyone else to do the same.
• Make sure your household insurance covers you for buggy theft. Ours was covered by the 'personal possessions away from home' section, so check the amount of cover you have is sufficient for the cost of your pram and any accessories - just in case the worst happens.
• Lock your buggy when you need to leave it anywhere. My Buggy Buddy Lock, £8.95 at Boots, offers protection without making you look too neurotic or paranoid (which a great big bike lock might do). It can be used to lock your bags to your pram or to lock the pram to a railing. Even just locking one wheel will prevent a thief from walking away with it easily.
• Don't leave anything in your buggy's shopping basket and always remove any sentimental items, such as toys and comforters. It's bad enough losing a buggy and explaining theft to a toddler, without them being robbed of a favourite, can't-live-without friend, too.
*This is true, although I'd only owned properly crap cars pre-parenthood.