Tips for car security and car crime
Even though you probably don’t hear much about car crime any more, there were still over 100,000 cars stolen just last year (2012) and only half have been recovered!! Maybe you have been lucky and never have been victim to such a crime and yes the figures have dropped over recent years but car crime is still a crime and a major one at that.
There are also other car crimes that don’t include the actual theft of your car, but are just as important to be aware of.
You may have the frame of mind that ‘if it will happen, it will happen’ but there are things you can do to help lower the risk. Some tips may sound like common sense but it’s amazing how the simple things can trip us up – especially when we are busy tied up in life’s goings on.
Technology advances at astounding rates and car security is better than ever. Most cars can’t be stolen without the keys… so thieves will be on the lookout for them!
- When you are home, keep your keys away from doors and windows – especially if they are open or unlocked! Don’t leave your keys in the back of your door!! Keep them a good distance away from letter boxes and even partially opened windows – thieves can push things through and hook your keys to snatch them.
- Don’t take your keys to bed with you, as tempting as it may be – if it comes down to it you have to put your own and your families safety first, so keep valuables somewhere the thieves won’t have to ‘go through’ you to get to them.
- Try and hide your keys somewhere that wouldn’t be the first place to look – just don’t forget where you put them the next day!
- Try not to have a set of key hooks in your home. They are attractive additions to the decor of your home yes, but they make life very simple for anyone looking for keys!
- When out and about, make sure you put keys in a place where you will feel someone trying to access – front pockets of trousers or jeans for example.
- Try not to to put your car keys in pockets or bags with large openings or pockets or bags without some form of fastening like a zip or buttons. This will be a deterrent for any opportunist thief.
- Don’t walk around with your car keys in your hand – someone could easily run past and snatch them from you.
- Try adding a keyring to your car keys, either a set of bells or a keyfinder fob. This way if someone does suddenly run off with your keys you will hear the bells jangling or you can use your keyfinder transmitter to make a noise! It might just make the thief drop the keys or at the very least will draw attention to them!
You can use this Google search to find stockists of different types of keyfinders: https://www.google.co.uk/#q=key+finder
We have all heard and seen the advice from the police about keeping valuables hidden or remove them completely from your car. Yet most of us still either leave them blatantly on show or leave them ‘safely’ tucked in the glovebox or under the seats! Take them with you or leave them at home!!
Stereos and Sat Navs
As tempting as it is to leave them in the car on show or even under the seats or in gloveboxes… don’t! Thieves know the usual hiding places and will look there first. A great idea is to mark your sat nav with your car registration number with a security marker. It will make it harder to sell on!
Try and remove or take with you the sat nav cradle or holder when you leave your car, wipe the tell-tale marks from the windscreen.
Don’t program your sat nav with your home address, if your car is broken into while you are away from home – shopping for example – and they have your sat nav they will know where you live and that you aren’t home!
Nowadays a lot of people either use mp3 players or their phones to play music, but for a lot of us we still rely on good ‘old fashioned’ CDs! Try not to leave too many CDs in your car if any at all, and if you do leave some in, try not to leave them on show! What you have to remember is that anything of value – even just a few pounds – is enough incentive for people to break in to try and make quick money from your property.
Electrical items, jewellery, phones, laptops and tablets are prime pickings!
Don’t leave them in the car at all if you can help it! Take them with you, if you can’t, try and keep them out of sight. These kind of items are like Christmas come early for thieves, they can sell them on quickly and for a lot of money.
Wallets, purses, credit/debit cards are probably the best a thief could hope for.
The potential to make money from these is immeasurable for a thief. Never leave them in the car, never hide them, ALWAYS take them with you!! Leaving your purse or wallet in your car is like handing them free money!
Tools and other equipment
Take them all out of the car or van when you leave it, keep them covered or hidden away from prying eyes. Security mark your tools and tool boxes with your registration number to help identify your goods but also to make it harder for them to be sold on.
Remember to always lock all the doors and make sure all your windows, doors and sun roof are properly closed!
Sounds totally obvious but when we are rushing round or juggling kids or running late for that important meeting it can be a simple, easy mistake but one that will leave you open to trouble.
So what other precautions can you take to prevent your car being stolen or broken into?
Immobilisers and alarms
Most cars come with immobilisers or alarms as standard, but for those that don’t, maybe think about getting one fitted from a reputable garage or fitter.
Steering wheel locks
You can also buy steering wheel locks from a number of garages or car accessories stores, you may feel they are unnecessary but they are a deterrent if nothing else.
VIN or chassis numbers
Mark all the glass and lights with a security marker or have the VIN number etched onto them. Make a note of the number and keep it somewhere in the house just in case. It won’t stop the car from being stolen but it may make things easier if it does get stolen and help to get your car recovered quicker.
Locking wheel nuts
Buy locking wheels nuts, you don’t need a whole new set of wheels, just the nuts. You can buy them from good car accessories stores for not too much money and fit them quite easily. If you can’t fit them yourself, go to a trusted garage to have them do it for you.
Try and park in security controlled car parks or areas
If not try and park in well lit and well populated areas. You might think parking your precious car in a dark corner will hide it from thieves… all it will do is make it easier for them to break in unmonitored!
Anti-theft registration plates
Registration plates are stolen so they can be used on different cars for other criminal activity. Arrange to have anti-theft registration plates fitted to stop this happening. Anti-theft number plates shatter when anyone tries to tampers with them,. You can also have self locking screws fitted. Have registration plates or self locking screws fitted at a reputable garage.
A new car crime you may not have heard of is the theft of catalytic converters. These are stolen for the precious metal they contain which is then sold on for a high price.
Taller or larger vehicles are vulnerable to this kind of crime because the converters are easily accessible and usually they have larger engines which in turn contains more metals. Try to park in well lit areas, well populated areas or security controlled car parks.
If you can, park your car on a private drive or in a garage.
Don’t leave your keys in the car when you are paying for petrol or if you are just popping into the shop or back in the house.
Another worrying and scary car crime is ‘car jacking‘. To help reduce the risk of this happening to you there a few things you can do.
- Keep your doors locked and windows up, especially if you stop in traffic or at lights.
- Try and be observant, be aware of what is going on around you, don’t be paranoid but just be cautious!
- Don’t stop to help if you see someone has broken down, pull over at the next petrol station or lay by and call for help or even go to your nearest police station.
- If someone tries to pull you over, even if it sounds genuine, don’t pull over. Go to the police or call them and report that someone was trying to pull you over for no reason. Best to be safe than sorry!
- If you think someone is following you, don’t go home. Try and take notice of the type of car, colour, registration, the person driving. Drive to a safe area or to a police station. Especially if you are alone in the car.
- If you have had a collision but think it wasn’t quite accidental, stay in the car, keep the doors locked and windows up. This can be a tactic by car thieves to get you out of the car so they can steal it from you. If this does happen, only lower the window a little, that way you can talk to the other person and if they are genuine will pass on their details through the window.
- Be careful of insurance scams, where two or more cars will ‘accidently’ bump into you to claim on their insurance to scam money from the insurance company. You will also lose out as you have the possible injury and shock, damaged vehicle and inconvenience of having your car taken away to be repaired and being drawn into something you don’t deserve to be involved in!
This is a bad time of year for motorists but a great time of year for thieves! They know you are out and about shopping and spending money on valuable goods. They also know that you will either have money or credit/debit cards on you and the possibility of a boot full of presents is high! Follow the above advice, hide presents as best you can, if you car is full of goodies try and leave your car in well populated areas or even places with CCTV. Try not to leave your car alone too long when it’s fully loaded with gifts!
If you have been a victim of a vehicle crime or a witness to one, report it to the police by going into a station or calling them.
By making a few changes or by paying a little more attention you could save yourself a lot of heartache and headache!
Be safe not sorry!