Ensuring your Car is Secure
Car theft is extremely common across the UK. Up to 500,000 people have their cars stolen every year, and around half of those vehicles are never recovered. In addition to this, there are millions of vehicle break-ins every year.
A lot of drivers incorrectly assume that an older vehicle is less likely to be stolen. However, due to the often lackadaisical security on these vehicles, they are predominantly the most common targets for theft. This does not mean that newer vehicles with far greater security are not targeted, however, as opportunist thieves will still break windows in order to steal any valuables that may be on show, and more experienced thieves will resort to some fairly extreme methods to steal a vehicle.
However, there are a number of things you can do to minimise the chances of having your car stolen or broken into. Firstly, it is important that valuables aren’t left in plain sight when you leave the vehicle unattended for any period of time. Car stereos are frequently stolen, but loose change, sunglasses, bags and laptops also form common targets for thieves. Car stereo theft can be traced by etching your registration number onto the stereo in ultraviolet pen, but many modern stereos have removable fascias that can be removed. Always remove it if you can - these are typically small enough to fit into a handbag or rucksack.
Try to park in an area with a high level of lighting that is open and ideally in public view. This will reduce the chance of your vehicle being tampered with in any way. However, this will still not deter some thieves who will happily choose a vehicle in plain sight.
Car alarms, immobilisers and special window overlays can prevent windows being smashed or cars being stolen. If your vehicle does not come equipped with a factory alarm or immobiliser, it is worthwhile considering an anti-theft security device. These come in many forms, but avoid cheaper alternatives wherever possible, as these can be broken easily. Having said that, any security device is better than none to ward off opportunistic criminals, but it is often worthwhile to pay a little more to get a Thatcham approved alarm or security device. These can come in the form of very complicated alarms that are wired directly into the loom of the vehicle, but can also include wheel and brake disc locks, as well as handbrake and steering wheel locks.
For parking at home, consider fitting security lights around your house to minimise intrusion onto your drive. If you have a garage, regardless of the amount of time it takes to park in there, it is always worth it if it prevents the theft of your vehicle. Consider hiding your keys when in the house also, as many thieves will see a car parked in a drive and break into the house, looking for the keys. If they’re simply left on a hook by the door or on a nearby table, many insurance companies will not pay out if your car is stolen and the keys have not been kept discreetly or securely.