This week it was announced that the number of recorded vehicle thefts in the last 12 months has reached nearly 90,0001. With the majority of police forces around the UK recording an increase in car thefts over the last year, IAM RoadSmart is on hand to give their top tips to help keep your car safe from thieves.
Your car is probably one of the most expensive items you own, so it’s important to make sure it’s protected from thieves and vandals. With car thefts on the rise, there are some simple measures you can take to secure your vehicle – as well as a few simple security tweaks that could cut the cost of insurance whilst reducing the risk of losing your no claims bonus.
Deciding where to park
Your car will be most secure if it’s kept in a locked garage or secure car park, however we know this isn’t always possible. If your car is parked on your driveway, it’s worth considering installing a CCTV camera or motion detector lighting to deter criminals.
For many of us the only option is to park on the street, so try to park on a well-lit one. You can also speak to the Council to enquire about their policies on street lighting. Make sure your insurance company knows where you normally park, it is usually one of their questions – so if you have recently moved you should update any changed parking information with them.
Keep valuables out of sight
Keep valuables out of sight, and ideally don’t leave them in your car at all. Even low value items can tempt thieves – and while these things might not cost a lot to replace, you could end up losing your no claims bonus by making a claim for a forced lock or broken window.
Don’t forget that even windscreen marks left by a sat-nav can entice an opportunist thief!
Get a car alarm and tracker
Many vehicles are fitted with a factory fitted alarm and immobiliser; however, you might want to consider an additional alarm to offer maximum security. Asking whether you have a vehicle alarm is a common question for insurers when applying for vehicle insurance, and it’s more likely you’ll be offered a discount if you do have a professionally fitted alarm - even a DIY-fitted proximity alarm can prove to be a good deterrent for thieves.
If you feel you’re more vulnerable to car thieves and would like more peace of mind, then investing in a vehicle tracker can make it much easier to trace and recover your vehicle if necessary. Talk to your insurance company, some work in partnership with specific companies and offer a discount on vehicles fitted with a particular tracker.
Keep your keys safe
We’ve all experienced that moment of panic when we can’t find our keys, but we should look after them carefully as they offer thieves the easiest option for stealing our vehicles. It’s always worth keeping your spare key in a safe and memorable place.
If you’re looking to buy a car and only a single set of keys are offered, then you may want to consider getting a professional to reprogramme the vehicle just in case they are intent on acting illegally at some point in the future.
Keep your car key away from the window and not in an expected place, such as a table in the hallway, and consider taking them to your bedroom at night. If your car has a keyless car entry system, put the fob in a signal blocking bag so thieves cannot use your own key to signal jump and gain access to your car.
Remember to act quickly if you lose your keys, even if you keep a spare. An MLA-approved locksmith can block your lost key from being used.
Invest in a steering wheel lock or similar device
While steering wheel locks may have become less popular over the years, they are still an effective way of stopping thieves as they provide another layer of security to crack. They can also stop high-tech thieves in their tracks as they tend to target the car’s electronic systems and are unlikely to carry heavy duty equipment for removing these locks. Just make sure you get the right preventative device for your car.
Locking wheel nuts
Modern alloy car wheels can cost hundreds of pounds each and are an easy target for thieves. Locking wheel nuts are cheap, easy to fit, and can act as an effective deterrent for criminals. Make sure you keep the special socket or key somewhere safe within your vehicle and out of sight.
Lock your car
It may seem like a basic security tip but remember to lock your car when you leave it, even if only for a few minutes. Many people admit to leaving their car unlocked, even leaving their keys in the ignition, so prevent the risk by locking the car when it’s left unattended.
Do your research
Car theft is becoming increasingly targeted and specialist these days. Being aware of the crime trends in your area can help you prepare for the worst. For example, have there been reports of catalytic converter thefts in your town or city? Which models are most likely to be taken in your local area? Often high-end high-tech cars are the ones that organised gangs go for so extra care may be needed if you own one.
The latest trend is theft for increasingly expensive spare parts. A little knowledge goes a long way so keep eyes and ears open for relevant local information and talk to your local crime prevention officers if you need more advice.
Rebecca Ashton, Head of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Car theft can be very distressing for people, but there are things we can do to reduce the chances of it happening. Being careful where you park and making sure you don’t leave anything tempting on display will help to deter thieves. If you can choose a car park which is registered with the Park Mark Scheme, it’s a good way for you to feel rest assured that your chosen car park has high standards of security.
“Try to avoid leaving your car park ticket in the car and if you are like me and tend to forget where you put it for safety - take a photo of it so you have it on your phone just in case. Although car thefts are increasing again after the pandemic, we do still live in a reasonably safe society so with a little planning and consideration you can keep on motoring for many miles to come.”
1 PA News Agency