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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 19:46 GMT
The man behind car park fortress
Ken Wigley outside Bold Lane car park, in Derby
Customer surveys show high satisfaction with the car park
Like many car owners, Ken Wigley has been the unfortunate victim of a thief who targeted his vehicle when he left it in a public car park.

But instead of getting angry with his insurers, Mr Wigley, of Shottle, near Belper in Derbyshire, decided to get even with the car thieves and invent his own solution.

Eight years later and he boasts the double honour of stamping out crime from two city multi-storey car parks and having his high-tech design voted in the top 10 most secure places in the world.

It ranks alongside, Fort Knox, US President George Bush's personal jet, Air Force One, mountain fortresses and a number of well-protected military bunkers.

The magazine Focus, that devised the top 10 list, highlighted how the car park uses a "sophisticated web" of sensors, cameras and bar code entry systems to keep cars safe from thieves.

Smash and grab

But Mr Wigley, 53, says he is frustrated by the lack of interest from councils up and down the country to his idea for car park safety.

"I'm hoping to make other councils sit up and take notice," he said.

"I see so many councils and speak to car park managers who think it is great but they go back to the political level and it always seems to fail at that point.

Control room at Bold Lane car park, in Derby
My driving force is to find somewhere safe for people to come and park their car
Ken Wigley

"They think why spend money doing anything if car parks are full."

The former agricultural engineer says he began his battle against car thieves 14 years ago after he had his car window smashed and his stereo stolen while parked in an airport car park.

He spent nearly seven years developing his idea before finally seeing it installed at the Bold Lane multi-storey, in Derby, where it reduced crimes from 107 a year to 0.

The same design was also introduced in Lancaster two years ago.

It works by having security sensors in each bay which, once activated by the driver, set off an alarm if anyone attempts to move the car.

The 500,000 car park also includes panic buttons and personal address systems on every level, 200 CCTV cameras and card activated access doors.

"My driving force is to find somewhere safe for people to come and park their car," he said.

"It is not just the cars, we are looking after the people as well, they are safe when they are with us."

So confident is Mr Wigley in his secure car park he offers a guarantee to cover the cost of any thefts, either of the car or its contents.




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