Car theft has rocketed by up to 60% in parts of the UK between 2016 and 2019 according to FOI requests submitted to police forces. Motorists are at a greater risk during lockdown. The reasons given are fewer police on patrol and cars being sat idle for longer periods on driveways. With that in mind, these are my top 10 ways to prevent your car being stolen.
This is an increasingly easy and popular way of stealing cars without using keys or breaking in to a vehicle.
Thieves use devices called relay boxes that are easily bought online to relay signals from the car key to the car. One criminal gets near enough to the key (in the house) to pick up the signal, ‘relays’ it to the second box held by the second criminal near the car who unlocks the vehicle. The criminals then drive away at the push of a button in the stolen car and are free to replace the locks at a later date.
All keyless cars are vulnerable. Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Land Rover, Mercedes and Volkswagen cars are the most popular targets.
Simple steps to prevent it
Keep your car keys in a ‘Faraday pouch‘ which has a lining that prevents the keys inside from receiving or transmitting radio frequency signals. A pack of two pouches are available on Amazon for £8 and act as blocker bags for your car keys.
A relay device can pass through windows, doors and walls but it cannot get through metal. Consider storing your keys in a metal container, a metal Faraday pouch or even a microwave oven to prevent your vehicle being stolen.
Do not store keys near doors or windows.
Make sure your car locks when you leave it. Opportunist thieves use ‘jammers’ to block signals between the car key and the vehicle.
If you buy a second-hand car, get the keys reprogrammed.
Make sure your keys are safely and securely stored.
Etch your car windows
A car window etching kit is a simple, cheap and effective way to deter car thieves. These can be bought on Amazon for less than £15 complete with warning stickers saying that the identification number is traceable.
Fit a steering or handbrake lock
You may also wish to consider using a pedal box which encases the pedals in a highly visible metal box.
A good wheel clamp can be bought on Amazon for about £30.
Fit a tracking device
These are professionally fitted and whilst it won’t stop your vehicle being stolen, it increases the chances of the police being able to find and return it.
The only downside to these is the annual subscription fee, which is quite pricey.
Fit a car alarm or immobiliser
Most modern cars have alarms or immobilisers fitted, although older cars often don’t.
A thief will likely think twice before breaking in to a car if it is alarmed and immobilised. The risk of a piercing sound and flashing lights is a powerful deterrent, and some alarms will also alert you via an app if they are activated.
A professionally fitted alarm or immobiliser will help secure your car and may lower your insurance premiums.
Park in a busy, well-lit area preferably with CCTV.
Hide any valuables
Untidy cars attract the attention of opportunist car thieves.
Phone leads, briefcases, handbags, sat-nav holders and paperwork are the most common items drivers leave visible.
Portable sat-nav holders and devices leave a circular mark on the windscreen, so if you don’t clean the screen it is obvious that you could have one in the car.
Keep your keys in a secure place
Motorists often leave their car keys in the hallway, on the stairs, in handbags left downstairs or in the kitchen.
Car thieves are known to use coat hangers to fish out car keys through a letterbox, or they will try the back door because so many people leave them unlocked or open.
I nearly fell victim to this due to an attempted break-in, which forms part of various car insurance risks that motorists need to be aware of. Contributory negligence can result in your claim being refused by your insurance company.
Never leave any documentation with your name and address in the car
If your car is stolen, the thief knows where you live and the property is empty leaving you vulnerable to burglary. You are also at risk of various types of fraud.
Visible security deterrents
Wheel locking nuts, stickers saying that the vehicle is alarmed or has a tracker fitted and steering locks are all cheap and easy ways to prevent your car being stolen.
Keep your car tidy, your windows closed, double check that your car is locked when you leave it and everything out of sight.
These are my 10 ways to prevent your car being stolen. Can you add anything to this?