According to figures obtained from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), a whopping 75,000 vehicles were reported stolen in the UK in 2020.
That is an average of 205 vehicles stolen per day and 1 vehicle stolen every 7 minutes, making vehicle theft a serious concern for millions of motorists around the country.
All cars are vulnerable to theft and it doesn’t matter which type of car you own. There are, however, certain models that are more susceptible such as newer cars and high-powered ones such as BMWs, Mercedes, and Range Rovers.
The Ford Fiesta is the most stolen car in the UK with around 3,392 models stolen in 2020, which comes as no surprise since it has been the most popular car in the country for 12 consecutive years.
Second on the list is the Range Rover with around 2,881 reported cases in 2020, proving the fact that there is an increase in criminal gangs using keyless technology to target high-end premium cars.
Vehicles are stolen for three purposes – for resale, for parts where the car is stripped down, or to be used in further crimes and, regardless of the reason, it can be an extremely distressing experience for the victims.
Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that you won’t become a target for vehicle theft, but the good news is that there are ways you can minimise the likelihood of you and your car being targeted.
Here are eight simple measures that can be taken to keep your vehicle safe from break-ins and theft, that won’t just prevent you from falling victim to the crime but also help you save money on your insurance premiums:
ALWAYS LOCK YOUR CAR
This may seem very obvious but you’d be surprised to know how many people leave their cars unlocked out of sheer forgetfulness.
Just as burglars look for unlocked doors and windows when choosing a house to break into, car burglars also look for unlocked car doors and open windows to break into since it makes their job so much easier.
They don’t want to waste time trying to pick a lock or bust open a window since the longer they stay near the car, the more likely they are to get caught.
Therefore, the first and most basic step of keeping your vehicle safe from theft is to always lock it, even if you leave it for a short while such as running back to the house to get something or getting off at the petrol station.
The same goes for windows and sunroofs, both of which should always be closed when you leave the car, regardless of how long or short a time you’re away from the vehicle.
Another very risky thing that most car owners are guilty of doing is leaving the car unlocked with the key still in the ignition.
What they don’t realise is that a momentary lapse of judgement on their part is what opportunistic burglars are on the lookout for, which is why all car owners must make it a habit to check, and then double-check, the doors and windows every time they leave the car.
KEEP THE KEYS SAFE
With advanced car security, it is often easier for criminals to steal the car keys rather than mess with complex security systems and increase their chances of getting caught.
Therefore, if you wish to protect your vehicle from being stolen, you must be very mindful about where you keep your car keys.
Most people keep them by the house door so that they can simply grab them when heading out and, although it is a very convenient location, it is also one of the most unsafe places.
Car key burglaries have become increasingly common and involve a house being burgled and the car keys being stolen, and one of the reasons that makes them so common is the easy accessibility that burglars have to the keys.
Sometimes, burglars don’t even have to break into the house to steal the keys. Instead, they use a widely popular technique known as ‘fishing’ where they use a length of wire to hook the car keys through the window or letterbox.
For these reasons, you must avoid leaving the car keys near the doors, open windows, or in places where they can easily be seen by potential thieves.
In addition to keeping the car keys safe at home, you need to be vigilant when you’re out as well. Never leave the keys in a visible place since getting access to the original car keys is one of the simplest ways for burglars to steal any vehicle without triggering any sort of security alarm.
PROTECT AGAINST KEYLESS ENTRY THEFT
Most new cars now come with keyless entry systems that allow the drivers to unlock and start the car using a key fob that sends a signal to the vehicle.
What’s great about these systems is that you don’t even need to take the key fob out of your pocket or press any buttons to unlock the car. You just have to be within a short-range distance and the system handles the rest.
However, keyless entry systems could be vulnerable to keyless car theft, also called ‘relay theft’, where burglars use special devices to mimic your key fob’s signal and send it to the vehicle.
This fools the car into thinking that the key is nearby, unlocking the doors and allowing the ignition to start.
There are a few precautionary measures you can take to protect your vehicle from relay theft, which is becoming a serious issue with the increase in keyless cars and entry systems.
While at home, you must keep the fob away from the car and avoid leaving it near the doors and windows, as discussed above, to disrupt the communication range and prevent car key burglaries.
It is also recommended to invest in a signal-blocking pouch, also called a Faraday bag, that is easily available and super cheap to purchase.
The pouch blocks the key fob from transmitting signals to the vehicle, preventing burglars from amplifying them and using them for relay theft.
For added security, you can also turn off the keyless fob’s wireless signal, if it can be switched off, and re-programme the keys if you are using a second-hand vehicle.
What reprogramming does is that it erases the code from the car key to the car itself, preventing previous owners from accessing the vehicle using any spare keys that they may possess.
KEEP YOUR VALUABLES OUT OF SIGHT
Sometimes, burglars break into cars not to steal them but to take away the valuables that you’ve left inside in plain view including wallets, purses, mobile phones, laptops, and satnavs.
It is very common among car owners to leave their belongings in the car, especially things that they need every day and are a hassle to take out of the vehicle at the end of each day.
What they don’t realise is that while they are trying to be more efficient with their time, they are actually attracting thieves who would most likely be tempted to break into their car once they see the items of value lying inside.
To keep your vehicle and possessions safe from theft, you must keep all your valuables out of sight and remove any items that may lure potential burglars towards your car.
When you park your car at home, make sure to check the interior to make sure you haven’t left anything out in plain view and take all your valuables with you.
You may also put your stuff in the boot of the car or cover it with a cloth if it has to be left inside the vehicle.
Also, people sometimes unknowingly leave important documents and paperwork such as phone bills and bank statements in the backseat which, if get into the wrong hands, may lead to identity theft which is already at a record high.
PARK IN A WELL-LIT SECURE AREA
Ideally, the best place to park your car is inside your garage or driveway, especially during the night when the streets are dark and empty. However, that isn’t always possible due to the availability of space and several other reasons.
If you park your car out on the street, make sure it is in a well-lit area, preferably under a lamppost so that it is always visible, even during the night time.
Avoid leaving it in unsafe areas such as poorly lit car parks or areas obscured by buildings and trees, even if you are in a hurry and know that you’ll be back within a few minutes.
Whether you park your car in your private garage or a public area, make sure it is a safe space and not secluded, in addition to taking plenty of extra security measures to deter criminals.
When parking at home, make sure to invest in security lighting to secure not just your vehicle, but also protect your garage and home from burglaries. Read this detailed guide on how to keep thieves out of your garage.
When parking in a car park, try to park close to other cars so that it makes your car less exposed to passers-by and criminals and takes longer to manoeuvre.
If you are travelling to an unknown or unfamiliar place and do not know where to safely park your car, do some research beforehand and look for secure parking options.
Technology has come a long way, especially in the security industry where the use of CCTV cameras and surveillance systems has made it easier to protect yourself and your property against theft, burglaries, and intrusions.
CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) cameras have become a common sight in both public and private properties, and they help in not just deterring criminals but also providing valuable evidence via CCTV footage.
Your garage or driveway is one of the safest places to park your car but there are ways in which you can beef up the security even further.
One of the best ways is to put the area and your car under CCTV surveillance so that you can always have a clear view of your car, regardless of the time of day, or night.
Burglars stay away from areas and things under CCTV surveillance for the fear of getting identified and caught, making CCTV cameras one of the most powerful security systems.
There are various types of CCTV cameras that you can choose to install in your garage or driveway for your vehicle’s safety.
Some of the most popular ones include bullet, dome, C-mount, PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom), day/night, infrared/night vision, network/IP, wired, wireless, and high definition (HD) CCTV cameras.
Choosing the best one depends on several factors including the camera’s resolution, the field of view, placement, power supply, budget, and additional features that include professional CCTV monitoring, smartphone notifications, remote access, and two-way communication.
However, if you intend to place a CCTV camera outside your property, you need to be very careful about protecting and respecting other people’s privacy. Read this detailed guide on CCTV laws and legal requirements for homeowners.
Car alarms are a great car security measure designed to alert individuals if any unauthorised person, such as a thief or burglar, tries to tamper with or break into the vehicle.
They serve as effective deterrents against theft and go off instantly if someone tries to gain unauthorised access into the car.
Most modern cars come with pre-installed security alarms and are also equipped with additional features such as mobile notifications that send alerts to the car owners on their smart devices every time any unusual activity is detected.
If you are the owner of an older vehicle or your car doesn’t have a factory alarm system, you must make sure to equip it with an aftermarket alarm system to protect it and keep it secure at all times.
When choosing the best car alarm system, you need to make sure it is a high-quality model that doesn’t get triggered unnecessarily by heavy vehicles passing by or strong winds.
False car alarms are a little too common, especially in big cities, where a majority of them go unnoticed or ignored.
Therefore, to avoid ‘the boy who cried wolf’ situation, make sure your car alarm is an effective one that picks up on unusual behaviour but doesn’t go off unnecessarily causing a nuisance around the neighbourhood.
From a burglar’s point of view, the ideal car is one with no visible signs of security, and if your car is as such, it’s time to take some serious action.
The best way to protect your vehicle is to use security measures such as car tracking systems, steering wheel locks, immobilisers, and to put up stickers stating that the vehicle is alarmed and has a tracker.
Criminals are getting smarter by the day, finding ways around modern security systems and, sometimes, despite your best efforts, the worst still happens.
Most of the time when cars are stolen, the owners never get to see them because tracking stolen cars can be very difficult at times.
By installing car tracking systems, which require a transmitter to be hidden inside your vehicle, you can increase the likelihood of your stolen car being recovered by pinpointing the exact location of the vehicle and finding not just the vehicle but also catching the criminals responsible for the burglary.
Most high-end car brands, such as Audi and Mercedes, and newer models come pre-fitted with tracker systems. However, if yours doesn’t, it is best to get one fitted to help the law enforcement agencies recover your vehicle if it gets stolen by thieves.
A car immobiliser is another great device that prevents the engine from being ignited if the wrong key is used, and although it doesn’t prevent the car from being broken into, it stops it from being stolen.
Since late 1998, all new cars in the UK have pre-fitted immobilisers, but if you drive an older model, it is best to have one professionally fitted since it won’t just protect it from theft but also lower your insurance premiums.
Other security measures include getting a steering wheel lock and fitting a dashcam that switches on and automatically starts recording when it detects any movement.
You may also have your car windows etched with the logo of the International Security Register (ISR) and a unique code that is linked to a secure database used by police forces across the country.
CONTACT CALDER SECURITY
Calder Security provides a comprehensive range of security solutions that include not just professional installation but also monitoring, maintenance, and repair services.
We are approved members of the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) and conform to all the relevant British and EU Standards.
Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 9799 to talk to our industry experts right away!