Avoiding Car Theft
Theft of and from cars is a threat that motorists have to live with every day. On the increase in many parts of the UK, it's something that happens to most of us at least once in our driving life. Police figures show that for every 100,000 cars that are parked in a car park, 480 are targeted daily by criminals - compared with just 110 parked outside the home or at the workplace.
So What Can we do to Stop it Happening to us?
Take Care of Your KeysThere are an ever-growing number of car thefts where the vehicle is taken using the keys.
It seems unbelievable that people would leave their cars unattended with the keys in the ignition, but crime statistics show that this is often the case. If the keys have been left in the ignition and your car is stolen, it is unlikely that your insurance company will pay out - so don't do it - even if you're just nipping into the petrol station to pay for fuel, or defrosting your car on the driveway in winter.
Sadly, as car security gets better and more cars are stolen 'to order', there are more burglaries with the intent of getting hold of the car keys. Make sure that you put keys somewhere safe (i.e. not in view of your letterbox) and hide them if there are any visitors to your house that you are not sure about.
Don't Leave Valuables in ViewValuables on view in a car are the equivalent of window-shopping to a car criminal. It takes a couple of seconds for them to break a window and scarper with your goodies - so don't give them the opportunity.
Apparently the most likely items to be stolen from cars are laptops, handbags and mobile phones. They can be hidden easily and quickly and can raise a bit of cash for the thief if they sell them on.
You need to be vigilant wherever you are. Even taking your dog on a nice long walk can cost you your car. Car parks attached to beauty spots are always very popular with car thieves. Picnickers and walkers leave the cars thinking they are safe and set off for a few hours - returning to find their cars either gone, or broken into.
The message is clear - Don't leave any valuables in your car. Although under the seats or in the boot are popular hiding places, thieves will just assume that's where the goodies are and if you've gone for a while, they'll have time to look for them. Don't leave any clothing on the seats either, because they'll just think it's covering something up, and you'll end up forking out for a new window.
Make Sensible Parking ChoicesWhen you are parking your car, consider the light - is it daytime when you are parking? What will the area look like at night? Will there be a working street-lamp or will you be completely in darkness when returning alone to your car?
These are all things to consider. Some tips for safer parking:
- Get a stereo that can be removed and take it with you whenever you leave the car. Buy a steering wheel or a handbrake lock - you can get good ones for under £20.
- Park in well-lit busy areas or in secure manned parking where you feel comfortable. Check out the park mark scheme for recommended car parks in your area.
- Close and lock all your doors when you are in the car, and keep windows shut in slow moving traffic. Not only does it stop drunken people mistaking your car for a taxi, it also removes the chances of an opportunist thief jumping into the passenger seat and forcing you to go and withdraw all your money from the cash machine.
- Again, don't leave possessions on show in the car - especially not a spare set of keys - or anything that identifies where you live - like post or documents as this makes you an easy target for burglary.
Secure Your CarIf you haven't got one already, consider fitting an alarm system or an immobiliser (also known as a kill-switch). This can also bring your insurance premium down but check first which brands they approve of.
Even if you haven't got an alarm or security device, put stickers on your windows saying that you have - the person eyeing up your car will probably not want to take the risk and move onto the next car.