Waking up to find your car has been stolen has to be one of the worst feelings. Despite figures showing that there was 14.5% decrease in car crime during 2020, this is probably due to lockdown, as figures had been steadily rising in previous years, reaching the highest rate ever in 2018-2019. However, thieves have been shown to be targeting luxury cars, with increasing numbers being stolen progressively over the last 5 years.
It seems no car is truly safe in the UK. However, with a diligent attitude and prohibitive measures, any car owner has the power to make their car less attractive to thieves. What are the real world, practical steps, that you can take today to make sure your vehicle doesn’t end up on the wrong side of a crime statistic?
1. Check you have locked the car
- Don’t just trust the fob; once you’ve hit the button, ensure the handle is truly locked. Fobs and external locking devices fail, and thieves are aware of this failing.
- Thieves have access to jamming technology, giving you another reason to perform a simple, manual lock check.
- Whilst you’re out there make sure the doors and sunroof are all tightly flush in their fittings. Small gaps can be exploited by criminals. This goes for the rear boot door too. A little tug makes sure it’s safe.
- Are the electric door mirrors still extended? Make sure these are pushed in, as this can be a sure sign the car is not locked.
2. Make your Mark
- Buy an ultra-violet pen and mark the expensive body parts and panels (we’re talking catalytic convertors especially here) and then put a sign in your window (you can purchase window stickers) stating that your car is marked as a deterrent.
- Etch in the car’s VIN number into each window, as the thieves will need to replace the glass, and this will make them think twice.
- If you have the option, take advantage of the local security systems. Think about parking under streetlights, near CCTV cameras and if possible, even in secure car parks with personnel patrols.
- Watch out for illegal tow trucks parked in the vicinity of any area. They could be waiting to pounce on your car.
- And position your front wheels so they’re turned into the kerb, whilst leaving your gears engaged – both these actions make the car more difficult to tow.
4. Box those Keys
- Relay attacks (where thieves intercept signals from your keys to your car, copy them and then use them to gain unauthorised access) are on the increase.
- To prevent your keys sending out signals – turn them off if they have a power switch. If they are ‘always on’, then place them in a metal box, safe or signal blocking pouch.
5. Security Locks
- Most cars have steering locks, but you can beef up your security with a gear lock, steering lock or even a clutch pedal lock
- These locks also act as a visual deterrent; one look at this lock may make a thief think twice.
- Many modern cars come with alarms and immobilisers as standard security features. If you don’t have one or both of these measures, then get to the garage and get one fitted.
- If you really want to be safe, purchase a car or a system with a proximity detector that will text you if someone comes close to the car.
- Remember to always test your systems; like everything on a car, they can fail over time and you don’t want them to fail when you need them most.
7. Staying Safe in Traffic
- Carjacking is an unpleasant experience and it does happen. In traffic, at lights or junctions, make sure the windows are wound up, and the doors of your car are locked.
- Leave enough space from the car in front, to drive away from someone trying to open your door.
- If you do have an accident (particularly from behind) then make sure you pull into a well-lit and public area, as the other driver could be a car jacker.
- Don’t stop for hitch hikers. If you really feel sorry for someone and want to give them a lift, stop the car and talk to them through the window. Something doesn’t feel right or add up? Leave immediately.
8. Keeping Keys Safe
- Stealing your keys is an effective and simple way of stealing your car. Keep your car keys out of sight at home and away from windows, front doors, and places where they can obviously be seen.
- Be aware of thieves posing as door knockers, who might try to grab keys from a table or hook near the front door. Also note that a stick and hook can be deployed through your letterbox to grab keys from your favourite, by the door position.
- Putting keys in a metal cage or special pouch will prevent thieves cloning the signal.
- And burglars will take anything of value; making it even more important to hide your keys, and keep the damage down to a minimum, if someone does break into your home.
9. Home Security Measures
- If you have the space and the money, then driveway bollards give you extra protection, and lockable, powered gates can act as an extra barrier, making would be thieves think twice.
- Outdoor home security systems and lights can frighten off burglars. You can also purchase fake cameras that are almost as good at frightening off thieves.
- Use your garage. Move out the old boxes, check the locking systems work, and put the car into it every night. Potential thieves won’t even know what type of car you own.
- Keep your garage door looking good and working well. Show thieves you’re on top of the maintenance schedule and your garage is secure.
10. Don’t Leave Your Car Running
- Leaving your car with the engine on and the keys in the ignition is not only a careless move, but it is also illegal; regardless of whether you’re picking up the kids, grabbing a prescription or one of the thousands of other excuses the traffic inspectors might have heard this week.
- Most insurance policies are void if the insurance company finds out you left the car running.
11. Test Drive Thieves
- Selling your car? Get the details of anyone who wants it to take it on a test drive. Get a good look at their insurance, driver’s license and any other ID they might have. Thieves often pose as prospective buyers.
- Don’t let anyone drive out alone, in your car. Make sure you are with them at all times, and ideally take another person along to avoid any shenanigans.
Our Final Word
Make sure you keep all your car documents at home rather than in the car – this will make it harder to sell on and easier to recover. Fitting a tracking device can also help recover your car. Also make sure you have a good scan around for anyone who looks a little shifty when parking – if they know they’ve been spotted then they’re less likely to make a move on your car.