Data from the ONS from earlier in 2023 has highlighted a 13 percent increase in overall vehicle-related crimes compared to the period ending March 2022, with 405,872 vehicle offences encompassing thefts from both cars and vans.
If you’ve recently purchased a car or are wanting to find ways to protect your car from theft, we’ve collated a number of ways to help you keep your car safe at home.
14 tips for keeping your car safe
If you’re looking to take precautions to improve your car’s safety at home, here are a few ideas you can try:
- 1) Garage: Park your car in a garage if possible. This provides an extra layer of protection from the elements and potential thieves.
- 2) Lock the Doors: Always lock your car doors, even when parked at home. Many car thefts occur because the car was left unlocked.
- 3) Install a Security System: Consider installing a car alarm or a home security system with car protection features. These systems can deter thieves and alert you to any unauthorised access.
- 4) Motion-Activated Lights: Install motion-activated lights in your driveway. These lights can startle potential thieves and make your property less inviting for criminal activity.
- 5) Fencing and Gates: If you have a driveway, consider installing a fence and a secure gate to limit access to your property.
- 6) Steering Wheel Locks: Use a steering wheel lock or a pedal lock to make it more difficult for thieves to drive your car away.
- 7) Key Management: Avoid leaving spare car keys or key fobs near the entry points of your home. Store them in a secure location, like a key safe or a locked drawer.
- 8) Security Cameras: Install security cameras around your property, including in the driveway and near the garage. Visible cameras can deter thieves and provide evidence in case of a break-in.
- 9) Neighbourhood Watch: Consider joining a local neighbourhood watch scheme to increase security awareness in your community.
- 10) Secure Valuables: Avoid leaving valuable items in your car, even when it’s parked at home. Thieves may break in if they see something valuable inside.
- 11) Use a GPS Tracker: Consider using a GPS tracking device in your car. This can help locate your vehicle if it’s stolen.
- 12) Upgrade Locks: If you have a garage, make sure it has a strong and secure lock. Consider upgrading the locks on both your garage and house doors.
- 13) Be Cautious with Information: Be cautious about sharing information about your car, such as its make and model, on social media or in public forums.
- 14) Insurance: Ensure you have comprehensive car insurance coverage that includes theft protection.
Common anti-theft devices
Modern cars often come equipped with a variety of anti-theft devices to deter theft and protect the vehicle and its contents. These devices are designed to make it difficult for thieves to steal the car or its valuables. Here are some common anti-theft devices that are often included in cars:
- Keyless Entry Systems: Many cars have keyless entry systems that require a specific electronic key fob to unlock and start the vehicle. These key fobs use advanced encryption technology, making it difficult for thieves to clone or tamper with them.
- Immobilisers: Immobilisers are electronic security devices that prevent the engine from starting without the correct key or key fob. They are designed to prevent hot-wiring of the vehicle.
- Alarm Systems: Most cars come with factory-installed alarm systems that trigger a loud siren and flashing lights when unauthorised entry is detected. These alarms can deter thieves and alert nearby people to an attempted theft.
- Steering Wheel Locks: Steering wheel locks are physical devices that attach to the steering wheel, making it nearly impossible to steer the vehicle. They are a visible deterrent and can be difficult to remove without the key.
- GPS Tracking Systems: Some cars come with built-in GPS tracking systems that can help locate the vehicle in case of theft.
- Glass Etching: Some cars have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etched onto the windows. This makes it harder for thieves to sell stolen parts or the entire vehicle, as the VIN can be traced back to the original owner.
- Smart Keys: Smart keys use advanced technology to communicate with the car’s computer system and allow for keyless entry and engine start. They are often more secure than traditional keys.
- Central Locking Systems: Most modern cars have central locking systems that allow all doors to be locked simultaneously with the push of a button, enhancing security.
- Interior Motion Sensors: Many car alarm systems include interior motion sensors that detect movement inside the vehicle. If someone tries to break in or enter the car, the alarm is triggered.
- Electronic Steering Column Locks: These locks prevent the steering column from moving, making it difficult for a thief to steer the vehicle, even if they manage to start the engine.
Signs your car is being targeted
Recognising signs that your car may be targeted by thieves is crucial for preventing vehicle theft or break-ins. Here are some common signs to watch out for:
- Suspicious Individuals Nearby: Be alert if you notice unfamiliar individuals loitering around your car or the area where it’s parked, especially if they appear to be watching it closely.
- Multiple Failed Break-In Attempts: Frequent signs of tampering with locks, handles, or windows, such as scratches, pry marks, or damaged locks, could indicate repeated attempts to break into your car.
- Tampered or Missing Security Devices: If you had steering wheel locks, wheel clamps, or other anti-theft devices installed, and you notice they have been tampered with or removed, it’s a strong indication that someone is targeting your vehicle.
- Disrupted Wiring: Thieves often tamper with wiring to bypass alarms and immobilisers. If you find cut or exposed wires in your car’s electrical system, it’s a warning sign.
- Strange Objects Near the Car: Look for unusual objects like wires or tools left near your car. These could be tools used by thieves or left behind after an unsuccessful attempt.
- Broken Windows or Locks: Obviously, if you find broken windows or locks on your car, it’s a clear sign of an attempted or successful break-in.
- Suspicious Vehicles: Keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles parked nearby, especially if they seem out of place or occupied by individuals who don’t appear to have a legitimate reason for being there.
- Disrupted Dust or Debris: If you notice that the dust or debris around your car has been disturbed or footprints are visible near it, it could indicate recent unauthorised activity.
- Unusual Sounds: Pay attention to any unusual sounds, like the car alarm going off frequently for no apparent reason, which could indicate tampering or attempted theft.
- Strange Marks or Paint Damage: Look for unusual marks or paint damage on your car’s exterior, as these could be signs of attempted break-ins or theft.
What should I do if my car is stolen?
In the unfortunate event that your car is stolen, it is essential to speak with the police. In addition, here are some steps you can take:
- Contact the Police: As soon as you realise your car is stolen, report it to the police. Provide them with all the necessary details, including the make, model, colour, and licence plate number of your car. A police report is essential for insurance and legal purposes.
- Contact Your Lender: Inform your finance company or bank immediately about the theft. They may need to be notified to prevent any complications with your loan. They might also be able to provide guidance on the next steps. We would usually require a crime reference number from the police, your insurance details and the excess amount. This may differ depending on your finance company.
- Contact Your Insurance Company: Notify your insurance provider about the theft. If you have comprehensive coverage, it should typically cover theft. Provide them with the police report and any other required documentation. They will guide you through the claims process.
- Keep Records: Maintain records of all communication related to the theft, including police reports, correspondence with the lender, and conversations with your insurance company. This documentation can be valuable in case of disputes or complications.
- Monitor for Updates: Stay in touch with the police and your insurance company to receive updates on the progress of the investigation or your insurance claim. Be prepared to provide any additional information they may require.
- Consider Gap Insurance: If you have gap insurance (Guaranteed Asset Protection), it can help cover the difference between the car’s value and the remaining loan balance, which can be significant if the car is not recovered.
- Stay Informed: Be aware of your rights and responsibilities regarding the financed car. Your lender might have specific policies and procedures to follow in the event of theft.
For more helpful information on car maintenance, why not take a look at our guides. From car servicing to winter driving tips, there’s plenty of information to help you keep your car in tip-top condition.