Are you worried about your car security but confused about all the different anti-car theft devices available and advice about which is best? Car thefts in the UK have almost doubled in the last five years and police-force budgets have shrunk. This article will explain the most effective measures to help you sleep at night.
To start with here are some car theft facts:
- Over 110,000 vehicles were stolen in the UK in 2017/18 according to Home Office figures.
- Top hot-spots for thefts in England are the West Midlands and London.
- The easiest cars to steal include the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus, according to Which? Magazine
Let’s start with some basic security measures
Lock your car doors
Always take the most obvious precautions such as locking your car every time you leave it. Modern car technology has made it easier to lock your car, but sometimes it’s difficult to hear the locking click. Better to double check it’s locked before walking away. Always remove the keys and lock your car when you go to pay for your fuel, if there is no-one else in the car of course!
Remove valuables and important documents from your car
Never leave valuables inside your car when you’re not in it and keep the interior tidy. If you have an expensive stereo or SatNav, take it with you or lock it in the boot. It is not a good idea to leave your log book or service record in your car, as you could become the victim of identify theft. The same is true for letters, bank statements or payslips.
Keep your keys safe
The easiest way to steal your car is for the thief to take your key and simply drive off into the sunset. At home, try to keep your keys away from doors and windows. Close your bag when out and about.
Everything working as it should?
Most modern cars have a car alarm and an immobilizer installed as standard. But do you know if they are working? Best to test that they are enabled and not faulty.
Safest places to park your car.
Always think about where you’re parking your car. Is it a safe, well-lit place or car park? You are better off parking your car in a monitored car park with CCTV. And when going shopping, make sure to park your car near other parked cars, you’re less likely to be targeted. It might be worth investing in CCTV for your driveway if you live in a theft hotspot and have an especially valuable car.
If you have a garage make sure you use it –it’s an extra deterrent for opportunistic thieves. Never leave your car unattended whilst it is running, for example when de-icing it on a frosty morning. The Manchester United footballer, Paul Scholes, was the victim of ‘ice bandits’ after his SUV was taken from outside his home when he left the engine running to defrost the windscreen.
What are the best anti-car theft devices?
Try a steering wheel lock
Steering wheel locks or those which fit over the gear stick are a deterrent. These are inexpensive to buy and easy to install.
Give your car a break with a brake lock
Brake Pedal locks stop thieves using the brake and clutch pedal. It attaches to the steering wheel and brake and must be removed before you can use either again.
Be a kill-joy with a kill switch
A kill switch can prevent your car being hot-wired. It works by disabling the car’s electrics.
Install a tracking system
Electronic tracking systems with GPS will help police locate your car if it has been stolen. It is a more expensive option than others but cars with one of these installed have a much higher recovery rate. There are two different systems available. One uses a VHF (Very High Frequency) Signal and the other GPS.
Tracker™ is the most well known of the devices which use VHF location technology. They work with UK police forces and allows for your car to be located even if it’s in a lorry, garage or shipping container. GPS tracking systems have the advantage that your car can be tracked all over the world. However, the signal can be deliberately jammed, making it less reliable.
Contact your car’s manufacturer
Which? Magazine recommends contacting the maker of your car to find out if there are any other precautions you can take to protect it.
How to avoid becoming the victim of relay theft
The introduction of keyless technology has meant thieves are able to steal cars using gadgets, so they don’t need the actual keys to break in. They use a ‘relay box’, a device which imitates the signal from the real key even when they’re not close to the car. This means it can be unlocked and driven away in a matter of seconds.
Use a secure “Keyfob bag”
When not using your key, you could keep it inside a security pouch which can block its signal. There is a wide selection on the market but some are more effective than others so always read the reviews.
Turn off the key’s wireless signal
Check your car’s manual to see if the signal on its keyless fobs can be switched off. If you can’t find anything then consider contacting the manufacturer.
Complete Cover Group customers can make a claim on their car insurance here.