There is no doubt that car ownership can provide many benefits, including convenience, independence, and freedom. But if your vehicle stolen there can be significant financial loss, as the true value of the car is usually not fully recovered, emotional distress at having your property taken without permission, and the hassle and aggravation that comes from sourcing alternative transportation, liaising with the police and dealing with insurance companies.
In recent years there has been an increase in car crime, particularly in relation to thefts of vehicles with keyless entry systems. This increase is driven by the rise of sophisticated relay attacks, where criminals use special equipment to amplify the signal from the key fob and unlock the car. Leading insurer Aviva claims drivers with keyless vehicles are twice as likely to make a claim for car theft than those with vehicle which are non-keyless.
By following our simple tips to protect your car you can reduce the risk of theft and have peace of mind knowing your vehicle is secure.
1. Ensure you follow the basics
It sounds obvious but you would be amazed how many people don’t follow the basics. Always lock your car and close all windows, even if you're only leaving it for a few minutes. And don’t rely on your key fob to lock the car – double check all the door locks (and the boot lock) are actually engaged before you walk away.
Park in well-lit and populated areas, if possible, and don’t leave valuable items in plain view inside your car, as this can entice thieves to break in.
2. Block relay signals
Relay car theft is a method of stealing a car that uses a relay device to amplify the signal from the key fob, allowing the thief to unlock and start the car without the need for the key.
The sophisticated technology used to transfer your key fob signal from inside your house to trick your car into unlocking and starting can pass through doors, walls and windows but it cannot pass though metal. So placing your car keys inside a metal box or an RFID blocking pouch makes it harder for thieves to steal your car via this method.
It's important to note that car manufacturers are developing new ways to prevent relay car theft and improve car security, but it's always a good idea to stay informed and take extra precautions.
3. Use a steering wheel lock
If the thieves can get inside your car and start it, a steering wheel lock makes it harder for them to drive it away. This means the theft will take longer and therefore make your car a less attractive target for thieves.
There are several types of steering wheel locks available on the market, including:
Clamp-style locks: These locks are shaped like a "U" and fit around the steering wheel, clamping it in place. They are easy to install and remove and can be stored in the trunk when not in use.
Bar-style locks: These locks are shaped like a bar and fit across the steering wheel, preventing it from being turned. They are typically more secure than clamp-style locks but can be more difficult to install and remove.
There are also models which lock the gear stick or the brake pedals.
4. Install a car GPS tracker device
Installing a GPS tracker device won’t stop your car being stolen but it provides real-time information on the car's location, allowing for vehicle tracking and improving the chances of a quick recovery. It can also alert you quickly if your car has been stolen by using virtual boundaries, called geofences. If your car is taken outside of these areas, you will be notified immediately, meaning you can take action faster.
There are several types of GPS car tracking devices available on the market, including:
Hardwired devices: These are installed directly into the car's electrical system and require professional installation. They typically offer a wide range of features and are ideal for fleet management or for monitoring high-value vehicles.
Plug-in devices: These are devices that plug into the car’s on-board diagnostics port and can be easily installed by the owner. They typically offer a more limited range of features but are less expensive and easier to install than hardwired devices.
Battery-powered devices: These are small, portable devices that can be hidden in the car and run on batteries. They typically offer a more limited range of features and are best suited for tracking vehicles that are used infrequently.
5. Installing a car alarm or immobiliser
Many modern cars do come with built-in alarm systems and immobilisers as standard equipment or as an option. These systems use a variety of sensors, such as door and hood switches, to detect when someone is attempting to break into the car or steal it. When triggered, the alarm will sound and the car's lights and horn will activate, alerting the owner and deterring the thief.
An immobiliser is a device that prevents the engine from starting without the correct key or fob. It works by disabling the fuel system or the ignition system, making it impossible for the thief to drive the car away.
However, it's important to note that not all cars have these features and even if they do it's always a good idea to double check and make sure they are activated and working properly, and also to keep in mind that no matter how advanced the security system is, a determined thief with the right tools can still steal a car.
6. Avoid carjacking
Cars can be stolen when you are in them. Always be aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for suspicious activity when approaching or leaving your car. When in traffic drive with with your doors locked and if you are bumped from behind wait. It's important to remember that your safety is more important than your car. If a carjacker demands your car, it's best to comply and not resist.
Car theft is a common and often opportunistic crime. It is essential to use multiple layers of anti-theft security to make your car an unattractive target for thieves and easy to track and recover if the worst does happen.
Artist, Baker and Blogger. Mum to my two beautiful, cheeky girls. Muddling my way through parenthood with equally cheeky Husband.