Keeping your car safe: at home and away
Too often we assume that because our car is fitted with an integrated alarm, central locking, and an immobiliser, that our pride and joy is safe from thieves and joyriders.
307 cars are stolen in the UK EVERY DAY
Yes, that’s an incredible one car stolen every 5 minutes. Over 100k cars are taken every year, and the numbers are growing. The police recently released data regarding reported car thefts, indicating a 45% rise since 2014.
The highest-risk region for car theft, via a Direct Line Insurance report, stated London to be the worst offender with 33 claims for every 10,000 registered vehicles.
That said, car theft figures in the West Midlands, the North West, the North East and in Yorkshire were all up by over 100%—a considerable increase over the 61% rise shown by London’s figures.
Car theft culture is changing
Car crime is on the increase, but the reasons for the thefts are changing.
Previously, the popularity of car theft leaned heavily towards joyriding. This included stealing high-performance cars out of boredom and for entertainment.
The modern car thief, however, isn’t prying open door locks and windows with a crowbar or screwdriver anymore.
They are often sophisticated specialists, investing heavily in the tech required to take cars without damage. It’s a must in a market where stolen cars are sold on to dealers or shipped abroad to be sold back into the market with a false identity.
What can you do to keep your car safe from thieves?
Car security devices
There are both hi- and low-tech accessories you can utilise to boost your vehicle’s security. Preventing car theft is just as important if you’re parked at home or during your daily driving duties.
Motoring retailers offer a wide range of car security systems, devices, locks and accessories designed to provide you with additional security and peace of mind.
Car theft deterrents — accessories and tech to help keep your car safe
A determined thief will have the means and methods to steal almost any car they like. However, the harder you make it for them, the more likely they are to find a car that they can remove with much less effort.
You should try to make it as hard as possible for the typical car thief. Here are a few accessories that could encourage them to bypass your car and steal your neighbour’s instead.
The educated and experienced car thief can shut down almost any alarm, but it takes time. The whole idea of your alarm is to draw attention to a break-in or theft. Hopefully, the idea of an alarm will be enough to encourage your thief to move on to an easier target.
Immobilisers and kill switches
Most cars these days will have a built-in immobiliser that will only allow your vehicle to start with the presence of the correct key.
You can reduce the chances of your car being stolen by a thief with the technology to replace your key. These can include additional switches to add further actions required to start your car.
An additional kill switch could disable your fuses, disable the fuel pump or ignition coil, or prevent the engine from starting via any other means.
Steering or gear-stick locks
Although they may seem a little old-fashioned compared to today’s technology, a heavy and hard to break steering-wheel lock will slow a thief down considerably.
As a visual deterrent, this could be the difference between thieves choosing to take your car or an alternative option with less stumbling blocks to bypass.
It might look like you’ve clamped yourself in your own driveway, but a wheel lock or parking boot can be a simple option.
They can just as easily prevent a thief from taking your car as they can an illegally parked culprit from removing their car from the scene of the crime.
Tyre deflators are designed to do precisely that. If tyre deflators are not removed before setting off, your tyres will have the air released from them making your car difficult to control and dangerous to drive. It will also damage the wheels if driven for too long, which will affect how much a thief can sell your car for.
Window etching and vehicle marking
Selling a stolen car comes with a range of problems for thieves, but breaking them down and selling them for spares is a much less risky process.
Having your windows etched will act as a deterrent, as will DNA Marking.
DNA Marking involves applying a uniquely coded clear paint applied to 50 separate parts of your car. Detectable under UV lighting, the components or parts can then be traced back to their owner.
Some insurers even offer a discount on your car insurance if you mark your car with this technology.
Car driveway security posts
If a thief can’t drive your car past the end of your driveway, then that’s the job done in the easiest way possible.
Installing a security post will do just that job. Whether you want to pay £20 for a manual key operated security pole, or £2k for an automated remote controlled option that rises out of the ground, is entirely up to you.
Blocking keyless entry
Keyless entry and engine starting is very convenient for drivers, yet it’s almost as convenient for thieves. With a simple signal booster, a car thief can amplify the signal from your keyless fob enough to open and start your car without it.
For £5, you can buy a bag or a pouch that prevents this event from taking place.
Protecting your on-board diagnostic port
Protecting your what? Modern cars are fitted with an on-board diagnostic port where technicians will plug devices into your car to troubleshoot and problem-solve its mechanical and electrical issues.
Car thieves regularly use these to program blank keys to start and steal your car and to bypass the immobiliser.
You can buy a special lock to prevent access, or splash out on a combined protector, tracker and key-clone preventer all-in-one.
CCTV and car security cameras
No thief wants to be recognised after getting away with a car, so they’ll be very careful not to be spotted during or after the event.
Installing CCTV will act as another deterrent to prevent a thief from taking your car.
There are a host of Wi-Fi-enabled cameras in the current market. They can provide real-time access to view your car, often with automated floodlights—another great deterrent to deter your thief.
And if you are unfortunate enough to have your car stolen…
Fewer than half of all stolen cars are recovered according to the RAC.
If you’d like to improve the chances of getting your car back, fitting a vehicle tracker or a stolen vehicle tracking system can improve your chances significantly.
Modern vehicles may already include a tracking system as part of their onboard control system. If your car doesn’t include one, there are plenty of systems available to install and activate yourself.