Having your vehicle stolen or broken into can be very distressing.
Below we have listed a few simple steps you can take to keep your vehicle and what's in it, safe.
Lock your vehicle
Develop the habit of always locking your vehicle, even if you're stepping away for a brief moment. Whether refueling or quickly retrieving something from your house, it's crucial not to overlook the security of your vehicle. Ensure that you properly lock your vehicle, especially if it has wing mirrors that fold in automatically when locked. Criminal gangs specifically target vehicles with extended wing mirrors, as it indicates that the vehicle has been left unlocked. Stay vigilant and protect your vehicle from potential theft by taking this simple yet effective precaution.
Keep your vehicle in a garage
If you have a garage “use it” and lock it. If you have gates ensure these are locked. Consider using an alarm for you garage and gates.
Keep your keys safe
Keys and ignition fobs should be kept safe and out of sight and reach. A common way to steal a car or van is to take the keys or ignition fob, either when left in the vehicle or from your home through burglary.
Keyless car theft
Vehicles fitted with a smart or passive key are susceptible to keyless car theft, also known as 'relay theft'. This key system allows you to gain entry and start your vehicle without the need to interact with your vehicle’s key.
Keyless car theft is when a device is used to fool the car into thinking the key is close by. This unlocks the car and starts the ignition. Criminals use specialist equipment that has the ability to grab the signal from the car to the smart key so that it appears to the car that the key is present. Your vehicle is most vulnerable overnight, particularly if parked on your driveway or directly outside your home.
How to prevent keyless car theft
When not in use – either at home or when out and about, store your keys (including spare keys!) in a security pouch. Security pouches are sometimes termed 'Faraday bags' or signal blockers/shields and there are many security rated versions on the market. These will prevent the signal from your vehicle being captured using electronic devices.
- Keep updated with latest software: Many manufacturers are now updating their in-car security systems to stay ahead of these attacks.
Key programming is being used by criminals to assign a new key to vehicles, by plugging a device into the On Board Diagnostic port (OBD) of the vehicle. The OBD port will in most cases be located in the driver’s footwell. Criminals will gain entry into your vehicle then plug into this port and programme a blank key to the vehicle.
- Ensure you reprogramme your keys if you buy a second hand car
- Have an OBD lock guard professionally fitted
- Electronic OBD security is available – seek the main dealer’s advice
Do not leave items on show
Leaving items visible inside your vehicle acts as an open invitation to potential thieves. It is important to remove or securely store items such as mobile phones, electronic equipment, coins, sunglasses, tools, clothing, and bags either by taking them out of the vehicle or placing them in the trunk. By doing so, you can deter thieves and protect your belongings from being targeted.
Always lock and close the windows of your vehicle when unattended – on the drive, the petrol station forecourt or when parking an unlocked vehicle is the easiest to steal or steal from. When away from home, consider using a Park Mark approved car park. Visit Park Mark to find an approved car park.
Secure your number plates
Stolen number plates are commonly used to hide the identity of stolen vehicles. By using clutch head security screws (also known as one-way security screws) to fasten your number plates, it becomes harder for thieves to remove or tamper with your plates, thus making it more difficult for them to obtain your vehicle's number.
Use a steering wheel lock
A steering wheel lock is a simple yet effective tool to protect your vehicle. Use a steering wheel lock and/or a lock that fits over the gear lever. Alternatively, a security box can be fitted over the pedals to prevent thefts when the vehicle is parked up.
Listen out for locking sounds
Ensure the security of your vehicle by double-checking its locking mechanisms. Listen out for the sound of your doors locking, lights flashing and/or mirrors closing. If you do not hear or see these indications, it is crucial to perform a thorough double check to ensure that your vehicle is properly secured. Taking this extra step helps prevent potential theft and provides peace of mind regarding the safety of your vehicle.
Install a tracker
Fitting a tracker into your vehicle can notify you when it becomes active or is travelling in a new area. In the unfortunate event of a theft, certain advanced vehicle alarm and tracker systems can even provide the capability to remotely disable fuel systems, effectively immobilising the stolen vehicle and leaving the thief stranded without a getaway. By installing your vehicle with a tracker, you enhance its security and significantly increase the chances of recovering your vehicle in case of theft.
Catalytic Converter theft
The precious metals used in catalytic converters such as rhodium, platinum and palladium has led to an increase in their theft. Cars that are most often targeted are hybrid vehicles as these vehicles have two power sources (electric and petrol or diesel) so the catalytic converter is used less frequently - the metals are less likely to corrode, meaning they are worth more and therefore more attractive to thieves. Vans and SUV’s are particularly at risk, as the ride height makes access to the exhaust system beneath them easier.
To keep your vehicle safe, ask your manufacture or dealer if they can give you any advice on locks or guards to protect the catalytic converters under the vehicle. Any products will need to be approved by the vehicle manufacturer for use on your vehicle model.