The need to prevent car theft is greater than ever. According to data from the RAC, thieves stole over 150,000 vehicles in the UK in 2018/19. Alarmingly, only three police forces reported a drop in thefts when compared to 2017/18 statistics.
But don't panic yet. While you might be at higher risk of car theft now than ever before, there are easy solutions to thwart the thieves. And that involves thinking like them. By the end of this guide, you will have 8 car theft prevention tips, as well as an understanding of how thieves try to steal your car
If every driver followed these 8 steps, thieves would have a hard time stealing any cars at all!
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Car Theft Prevention Tip 1: Make Their Life Difficult
Thieves hate visible security. If they see something on your car that might get them caught in the act, they're unlikely to attempt the theft. Invest in a locking wheel nut, steering lock, immobiliser or tracker. If you're being super safety-conscious, why not all four?
It goes without saying, but you'd be surprised how many people leave their car unlocked. In fact, over 25% of drivers
in the North East admit to doing it! Thieves will walk around trying car doors on the off chance that they get lucky...
Leaving things in your car is another great way to get it stolen. Take all your valuables with you, and invest in a car cover so no one can go window shopping. If thieves have to break something to get in, they're more likely to go looking elsewhere. Don't make it easy for them!
Car Theft Prevention Tip 2: Don't Leave Your Car Idly
How many of us start defrosting our cars on a cold winter's morning while we drink our morning coffee inside? If you're one of those people, now's the time to stop!
Not only is it illegal, it also gives a perfect opportunity for car theft.
Never leave your car unattended when it's unlocked and the keys are in the ignition. It's far too easy for an individual to stroll up, open the door and drive off in your car. Whenever you leave your car, switch the engine off, lock the doors and take the keys with you.
Car Theft Prevention Tip 3: Make Sure It's Fully Insured
While it may not deter a thief specifically, your wallet will thank you for following this tip.
Never buy anything less than Third-Party Fire and Theft car insurance. Where possible, take out a fully-comprehensive policy for every vehicle you own. That way, if the worst does happen, your insurance company will cover most of the cost for you.
Third-Party insurance is great if you have an accident, but it doesn't help in any other situation. Spending a little more each year on upgraded cover could save you a lot if someone takes a liking to your vehicle.
Car Theft Prevention Tip 4: Change Up Where You Leave It
What's more appealing for a thief: a car parked on a dark, deserted street, or one parked next to another vehicle on a well-lit driveway?
Street lighting is a great deterrent, as is the presence of other vehicles. If you own a garage, it's even better!
Out of sight means out of mind for passing criminals.
Thieves don't like getting close to your house. Parking on a driveway means they have to leave their comfort zone more than they would like. If you don't have a driveway, park in a safe, well-lit place nearby. Even if it means you have to walk a little bit further, it's much better than an unlit kerb outside your front door.
Wherever you park, turn your wheels in towards the kerb or another car. Thieves don't want to fight with the steering and risk setting off an alarm as they drive away. The more complicated you can make the manoeuvre, the better - just don't make it so complicated that you can't get out of it!
Car Theft Prevention Tip 5: Stop It At Source With Vigilance
Always look out for would-be thieves in your area. If something looks suspicious, there's a good chance that it is!
Police take claims of suspicious behaviour seriously, even if it turns out to be nothing. If you have legitimate grounds for the claim, you won't face any repercussions. So, if an unmarked van or tow truck is loitering around with the occupants acting strangely, don't be afraid to call 999.
Thieves may leave little notes to remember their targets or to let others know which vehicles they have claimed. Regularly check the area around your car for unfamiliar marks. If you see something suspicious that worries you, again call the police. It might prevent a car theft.
Car Theft Prevention Tip 6: Leave Them Playing Keyfob Hide and Seek
One of the worst places to store your keys is just inside the front door. That's the first place a thief will look. If you can make them uncertain about where the keys are, breaking into the house becomes much more risky.
Because, while thieves could hotwire your car to steal it, it takes a lot longer to do so than using the key.
Make yours unavailable to thieves. Store them in a safe, secure place, well away from the front door. If you have an empty aluminium tin, why not put it to good use? Hide your keys amongst some other clutter to put thieves off the scent. Make sure you hide your spare keys in a similar location, but away from your main set.
Keyless Car Theft Prevention Tip 1: Keep on Top of the Latest Tech
In-car software is evolving all the time. Every update brings new security developments and fixes any bugs in the system. If your car doesn't need a physical key to drive it, it's even more important that you keep on top of software updates.
The latest security usually means the best security, so keep on top of yours to prevent car theft.
Keyless Car Theft Prevention Tip 2: Shut the Signal Down
If thieves can't find the radio signal to hijack, they can't get into your car to drive away. You can switch some keyless fobs off overnight, so they stop transmitting the signal. Check your vehicle's manual to see if you can with yours.
Another way to block the signal is to invest in a Faraday Pouch. This insulating pouch blocks thieves' tools from hijacking the signal from your keyfob. It's worth noting that not all pouches are reliable, so do your research before buying one.
What you shouldn't do is store your keys in your microwave. While it will help block the radio waves, it doesn't end well if you forget they're in there before warming up your morning porridge...
While these tips may sound simple, many UK drivers don't prevent car theft well enough. So, how will criminals steal yours?
Here are the 5 main thief methods used in the UK:
Thief Method Number 1: The Opportunistic Attack
A light-fingered thief will take any opportunity to score an easy win. If they see an attractive target that's too tempting to ignore, they'll take it every time. They walk around trying to open unlocked car doors remember?
Don't give them that opportunity.
Thieves are all motivated by the same thing: greed and desire. Criminals love people who are careless with their cars. If you leave yours unlocked, unattended or with any expensive items on show, it's a high-risk target. Did you know that 1/5 of all car thefts in 2018/19 were as a result of an unlocked car?
It makes the thieves' lives so much easier.
No matter how safe your neighbourhood is, it only takes one interested thief passing through to take advantage of your trust.
And believe us when we say that they will take it.
Thwarted by Tips 1, 2, 4 and 6
Thief Method Number 2: The Planned Hit
If a thief can score an easy win they're doubly happy, but they do plan most of their car thefts.
Criminals will often check out the location a few days in advance. They're looking out for obvious security deterrents as well as a perfect time to steal the car. Some are even prepared to work in broad daylight!
Vigilance is the best prevention method here. If you're on the look-out for would-be thieves, you might just prevent a car theft in your area.
Thwarted by Tips 1, 5 and 6
Thief Method Number 3: The Ulterior Motive
Other car thieves have a larger job in mind and want something that the police can't track back to them if something goes wrong. Your brand-new Mercedes-Benz might be a perfect getaway car from a bank robbery. Or, your battered old Transit may be an ideal transport for illegal or counterfeit goods.
While thieves will steal any vehicle they can get their hands on, they do have their favourites. According to Confused.com and Tracker, these are most popular stolen vehicles in the UK:
Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Vogue
Land Rover Discovery
Range Rover Evoque
BMW 3 Series
Range Rover Autobiography
Notice any similarities? Expensive, high-end cars are more attractive for thieves. If you own one of the models on this list, you need to take extra care to prevent car theft.
Thief Method Number 4: The 'Get Rich Quick' Approach
Sometimes, thieves don't even want the whole of your car. Individual parts can be much more valuable on their own, especially if you own an older, low value vehicle.
The most obvious example is the rise in catalytic converter thefts over the last few years. However, there are other parts sold off to illegal 'chop shop' operations for large profits as well.
Stealing an individual part is much more difficult, but it doesn't bother criminals. Many are still okay with stealing the parts in broad daylight! If they cannibalise your car, you end up losing out twice. Not only do you have to replace the part, but you also have to live without a car for a while.
Thief Method Number 5: Hacking the System
Keyless entry is becoming more and more popular thanks to its convenience. The only downside is that it also makes it much easier for thieves to steal your car!
A keyless fob communicates remotely with your car through radio waves. You don't even need to be up close to use it. This allows tech-savy criminals to gain remote access to your car without using the key.
They might not even need to come anywhere near your house to do so.
Now, it's not conclusive that keyless cars are easier to steal, which offers some comfort. Nevertheless, thieves have developed a wide range of methods to get hold of your car. Look out for keyfob hijacking, reprogramming, jamming, app hacking and lock grabbing. Fortunately, manufacturers are stepping up their security game as well.
Thwarted by Keyless Tips 1 and 2
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Thieves use a variety of methods to try and steal your car, so you need to do as much as you can to thwart them. The more secure your car, the lower the theft risk. It can happen to anyone, so don't assume that your area is 100% secure. Here are our top three tips to prevent car theft:
- Always stay vigilant
- Keep your car locked and in a secure location
- Never store your keys in plain sight or anywhere near your front door