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Top Tips On How To Prevent Car Theft

Modern cars have so much technology within them that vehicle evolution is changing at a rapid rate, and it will do so even more rapidly as we migrate from fossil fuels to green energy over the next 5-10 years. But whilst technological enhancements make cars more and more luxurious, functional and secure, thieves targeting them become equally as capable to adapt and are consistently develop smarter techniques that bypass a car’s anti-theft devices. As such we outline the following steps you can take to prevent the risk of falling victim to car theft.

1. Turn Your Engine Off If Away From Your Vehicle

You may be tempted to leave your car engine running – especially if you’re heating it up on a cold morning – but by doing so you run the risk of having your car stolen (not to mention getting a fine). A thief only needs seconds and the right opportunity to steal your car, so take care when defrosting your windscreen.

The same is true when nipping into a shop or dropping your children at school. If you’re leaving the vehicle unattended you really must switch off the engine and lock the doors. Saving a few seconds is not worth the risk of having your car stolen.

2. Always Be Seen

Using a sturdy steering wheel lock, a lock on your pedals or gearstick, and/or having your car’s registration number etched onto the windows can be enough to deter thieves from targeting your vehicle. In the vast majority of cases it will sufficiently deter a thief to go seek out easier options.

Of course, some of these may be considered outdated deterrents, but in today’s digital age, they are making a comeback and act as a massive visual deterrent. Many thieves are opportunistic, and if they judge a car to be too much hassle, they usually take a pass on it.

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Related Reading: 10 Most Stolen Cars In The UK 2023

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3. Don’t Just Rely On Your Key Fob

It is always wise to double-check that you have actually locked your car. It might seem like a hassle to check every door, but it’s the only way of guaranteeing that every door is locked. Some cars will give off either an audible or visual signal when they have been locked, whilst others feature ‘pins’ on the inside of the windows, which lower after the door has been locked.

Don’t just rely on your fob, as thieves are able to use ‘jammers’ which intercept the signal given off by your fob, meaning it doesn’t reach your car, therefore leaving it unlocked and at their mercy. These jammers can be hidden very well and can be left anywhere – so always be vigilant.

4. Keep Belongings Hidden From View

It may sound obvious (or a massive hassle) but to avoid most car thefts people should always consider taking their belongings with them or at the very least putting them out of sight, when they park up. If you leave your bags, technology, coat, etc. in view or leave money on your dashboard in plain sight you run the risk of somebody being tempted to break in, leaving you with lost items and a bill to pay for the repairs.

If you have a parcel shelf or a cover in your boot, then it might be best to open or remove it, which will show anybody tempted to break in that there is nothing to steal.

5. Avoid Falling Victim To A ‘Relay Attack’

Tracker, a vehicle tracking specialist, has released figures that reveal 96% of motorists are at risk of having their car stolen using a ‘relay attack’. This involves two criminals that work together using electronic signal relay devices and is an increasing method used by thieves today. One thief will stay alongside the car and will receive a signal from their partner who uses a device from within the home to transfer the signal. The devices trick the car into thinking the key is there and allow the car to be opened and started – allowing the thieves to drive away.

The signal cannot be passed through metal, so placing your keys within a metal box or special security envelope when you don’t require them will block the signal and protect your vehicle from a ‘relay attack’.

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Related Reading: Don’t Panic: How to Handle Stolen Car Keys

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6. Park In A Secure Place

Don’t just park in the first available space you see – try to find a spot that is well lit and open to public view. If you require to use a car park, try to find one that has CCTV in operation, security patrol officers, or has been approved by Park Mark for safer parking.

If you’re parking at the shops or in a busy town centre, then you should park close to others, rather than away from them. Thieves will be less likely to target your vehicle if there are deterrents such as other vehicles and people constantly passing by, parking up, coming and going.

7. Add An Alarm Or Tracking Device

Most modern cars come with a factory-fitted immobiliser, but adding a Thatcham-approved alarm can reduce your insurance premiums as well as the risk of theft. Fitting a tracking device won’t prevent the theft of your vehicle, but it does increase the chances of you being able to recover it.

Research by Tracker shows that 75% of vehicles stolen and recovered were valued at less than £20,000, with 27% of recovered vehicles in 2016 being valued lower than £5000. That suggests a lot of opportunistic thieves, looking for easy targets.

8. Look After Your Keys

Stealing car keys has become the most popular way thieves steal cars today, mainly due to the difficulty of trying to break in, start them and drive away without having the actual key. Cars are just so much more secure.

Therefore, never leave your keys unattended when you are in a public space and when at home leave them out of sight and out of reach. Criminals have been known to use wires through letterboxes or windows to retrieve keys or simply see them through a window and walk straight in and out to get them in seconds without you even hearing them.

9. Leave Your Vehicle Documents At Home

Don’t leave your logbook or service records in your car. You might think it’s the most logical place for them, but if you fall victim to car theft, those documents will make it much easier for the car to be sold and you could become a victim of identity fraud.

Similarly, don’t leave anything that can be used to identify you in your car. Again, this puts you at risk of identity theft.

10. Secure Your Wheels

Alloy wheels can make your car a lucrative target for thieves, so it is wise to protect them with locking wheel nuts. These are cheap to buy, easy to fit and make alloys difficult to remove if you don’t have the correct key. It is possible to purchase a locking wheel nut remover tool online, but having one fitted will deter criminals considerably.

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Related Reading: My Car Is Stolen & I Pay On Finance – What Should I Do?

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