What Are the Best Car Anti-Theft Devices?

Car theft is a growing concern for vehicle owners in London and throughout the UK. Whether you own a new or older model in a practical or luxury brand, investing in anti-theft devices is essential. In this guide, we compare some of the best car anti-theft devices to help you keep your car secure.

Rising Car Theft Rates

Car theft rates in London have been on the rise in recent years. In 2018, there were 18,000 reported stolen cars in London, but in 2023 that number rose closer to 24,000.

This upward trend is driven by the increasing sophistication of thieves, who are accessing advanced technology to commit these thefts quickly and discreetly.  A growing demand for black market parts and the wider cost-of-living crisis are also pushing these numbers to rise. Vehicle owners must stay ahead by investing in the latest anti-theft devices.

Comparing the Best Car Anti-Theft Devices

There are various car anti-theft devices available, each offering different levels of protection. Understanding the features and benefits of each can help you make an informed decision.

Steering Wheel Locks

Steering wheel locks fit over your car’s steering wheel, making it difficult to turn. They are a visible deterrent to thieves, helping to reduce the chances of your car being stolen. Many steering wheel locks come with additional features, such as alarms or bright colours, to enhance their effectiveness.

Pros:

  • Easy to install and use
  • Affordable and widely available
  • Effective as a visual deterrent

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to handle and store
  • Does not prevent break-ins or theft of car contents
  • Sophisticated thieves can use lock-picking tools to detach it
  • May not fit all types of steering wheels

Car Alarms

Car alarms are designed to alert you and those nearby when someone attempts to break into your vehicle. These systems can be triggered by various actions, such as opening a door or breaking a window. The noise often scares off thieves and draws attention to the vehicle.

Pros:

  • Provides an immediate alert to a break-in attempt
  • Acts as a strong deterrent to thieves
  • Can be integrated with other security systems

Cons:

  • Can sometimes trigger false alarms
  • Can be disabled by thieves
  • Does not physically prevent theft

Aftermarket Car Alarms

Installing an aftermarket car alarm can improve your vehicle’s protection against theft. Aftermarket car alarms are security systems installed in your car after purchase, rather than being factory-fitted. These alarms can offer advanced features not available in standard models, enhancing your car’s security. These can include options like remote start, GPS tracking, and smartphone alerts.

Immobilisers

Immobilisers are advanced security devices that prevent a car from being started without the correct key or code. These systems are integrated into the vehicle’s electrical circuitry, effectively disabling the engine unless the authorised key is present. Immobilisers make it difficult for thieves to steal the vehicle.

Pros:

  • Highly effective in preventing vehicle theft
  • Hidden installation makes it difficult for thieves to detect and disable
  • Enhances overall vehicle security by immobilising the engine

Cons:

  • Requires professional installation for optimal performance
  • Higher cost compared to basic anti-theft devices
  • Potential inconvenience if the system malfunctions or if you lose the authorised key

The Ghost Immobiliser

The Ghost II Immobiliser is one of the best anti-car theft device UK. This device prevents your car from starting unless the unique, user-defined PIN code is entered using existing buttons on the steering wheel or dashboard. It does not rely on key fobs or LED indications, which are typical weak points in other systems.

GPS Tracking Systems

GPS tracking systems allow you to monitor your car’s location in real time using satellite technology. These systems can provide continuous updates on your vehicle’s whereabouts, which is especially useful if your car is stolen. By installing a GPS tracker, you can quickly and easily locate your car, aiding in its recovery.

Pros:

  • Provides real-time location tracking
  • Helps in the quick recovery of stolen vehicles
  • Can offer additional features like geofencing and alerts
  • Installation can help meet insurance requirements

Cons:

  • Does not prevent theft, only aids in recovery
  • Requires a subscription for continuous tracking service
  • Can be expensive to install and maintain

Choosing the Right Anti-Theft Device for Your Car

Selecting the right anti-theft device for your car depends on your specific needs. Here’s what to consider to choose the best car anti-theft devices:

Considerations Based on Vehicle Make and Model

Certain car models are more commonly targeted than others, such as the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf and Range Rover Sport. That makes it essential to take your vehicle’s make and model into consideration. Understanding the specific vulnerabilities of your car can help you select the most effective anti-theft device.

To determine the best anti-theft device for your vehicle, start by researching common theft methods for your car’s make and model. Look for recommendations from experts and reviews from other car owners with similar vehicles. Consulting with a security professional can also provide valuable insights tailored to your car’s specific needs.

Installation Methods and Requirements

Anti-theft devices need to be properly installed to be effective. Certain devices require professional installation, such as aftermarket car alarms and immobilisers, which can come with a fee. Some devices, like steering wheel locks, are easy to install yourself.

Evaluate the Effectiveness of Each Anti-Theft Device

The effectiveness of anti-theft devices can vary widely within each type. For example, if you choose a steering wheel lock, you will find an extensive range of options from various brands. Each brand offers different features and levels of security, making it important to carefully select the best one for your needs.

To evaluate the effectiveness of an anti-theft device, look for specific features such as durability, ease of use, and tamper resistance. Read reviews from other car owners and experts to understand the performance of different products. You will also need to consider your budget to find a device that offers the best value while providing the level of security you need.

Installing and Maintaining Car Anti-Theft Devices

Proper installation and regular maintenance are crucial for the effectiveness of anti-theft devices.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Installing a Steering Wheel Lock

Installing a steering wheel lock is straightforward. Here are the steps to follow for the two most common types of steering wheel locks: extension and crook lock.

Steps for extension steering wheel lock:

  1. Compress the lock to the width of the steering wheel.
  2. Extend the lock for a tight fit.
  3. Turn the key or set the combination to lock it in place.

Steps for crook steering wheel lock:

  1. Slide the top of the bar underneath the top of the steering wheel handle.
  2. Place the two hooks in between two gaps in your steering wheel handle.
  3. Close the hooks into the stop lock.
  4. Turn the key or set the combination to lock it in place.

Expert Installation for Anti-Theft Devices

Advanced anti-theft systems often require professional installation. While this service comes with an additional cost, it is essential to ensure that the devices are installed correctly. Professional installation guarantees that your anti-theft devices are fully functional, providing optimal protection and giving you peace of mind that your vehicle is secure.

Regular Maintenance Tips to Ensure Optimal Performance

Regular maintenance is essential for anti-theft devices. Follow these maintenance best practices to keep your devices in top condition:

  • Steering Wheel Locks: Regularly inspect the lock for any signs of wear and tear. It’s recommended to clean it periodically to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation. You may need to lubricate the locking mechanism to keep it functioning properly.
  • Battery-operated Devices: Have a professional inspect your immobiliser, aftermarket car alarm, and GPS tracker at least once a year. They complete performance tests to check for malfunctions and replace batteries if necessary according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Impact of Anti-Theft Devices on Insurance Premiums

Investing in anti-theft devices can be a cost-effective way to reduce your insurance costs. Many insurance companies offer discounts for vehicles equipped with security systems. Check with your provider to see what savings are available.

FAQs

Which car anti-theft device is the most effective?

The Ghost Immobiliser is the most effective anti-car theft device. Combining multiple devices with an immobiliser, such as a steering wheel lock, aftermarket car alarm, and GPS tracker, offers the best protection.

How do car anti-theft devices work?

Anti-theft devices work by deterring thieves and preventing them from stealing the car. They use physical barriers, alarms, and electronic systems to secure the vehicle.

Are steering wheel locks effective in preventing car theft?

Yes, steering wheel locks can be effective. They provide a visible deterrent and make it difficult for thieves to drive the car. However, thieves with sophisticated tools can sometimes break the lock.

Can I install a car anti-theft device myself?

Some devices, like steering wheel locks, can be installed by you. Others, such as car alarms and immobilisers, require professional installation.