Protect your Car: Top Tips to Prevent Car Theft in London
99 Car Thefts But Yours Ain’t One
We‘re all inclined to think that cars are much more sophisticated and feature-packed these days, which makes them more secure and therefore safe from being stolen. The problem is that thieves are also more sophisticated and have developed a range of techniques to overcome vehicle security.
Thieves also rely on drivers being careless and will target those vehicles that are easiest to steal. So it’s up to you as the vehicle driver and owner to make sure your vehicle is protected against thieves.
There are plenty of actions you can take, as described next. Some of these are simple and fairly obvious while others require a little more thought and some expense. What you do will depend on the value of your vehicle, how threatened you feel and, most importantly, whether you can manage without your car.
1. Never Leave Your Car Unlocked
Many thieves are opportunists and will steal a car or its contents if it’s left unlocked. So always lock your car if you leave it unattended, even if only for a short time. Some thieves use an electronic device to jam the signal from your key fob and so prevent the vehicle from being locked.
Many cars give an indication when they’re locked, such as by the mirrors folding in or the indicators flashing. If you’re unsure, check the doors and lock them manually if necessary before you walk away from the vehicle.
Leaving a car unattended with the engine running is illegal, even if you’re just de-icing and warming it up on your driveway on a cold morning. This practice not only puts your car at risk of being stolen but also means you can be fined. Moreover, if your car is stolen when left with the engine running, your insurer is unlikely to pay out so don’t do it.
2. Protect Your Keys
Thieves sometimes overcome the extra security of modern cars by simply stealing the keys. Always keep your keys safe so they can’t be seen by thieves and aren’t near the front door. Keys have been stolen by a pole being pushed through the letterbox to hook and retrieve them.
Cars with keyless entry are prone to relay theft where a device is used to intercept and capture the key signal so it can be used to open and start the car. You can prevent this from happening by keeping the keys well away from the car when not in use and protecting them within a box or pouch, known as a Faraday Bag, that blocks the signal.
If you can’t put the car in a locked garage or on your driveway, always try to pick a spot that’s safest rather than one nearest to where you want to be. Avoid dark and quiet places and instead choose somewhere that is well lit and preferably has plenty of people about.
If you park in a public car park, choose one that’s covered by CCTV cameras, has security staff, is busy with people and other cars and is properly illuminated. Thieves don’t like to be disturbed so they’ll tend to avoid these areas. You can also use a car park that’s approved by Park Mark for safe parking.
4. Avoid Carjacking
Sitting in stationary traffic doesn’t mean you’re safe from your car being stolen. Even here, thieves may try to take your car so always drive with your doors locked and leave enough space to the vehicle in front to make an escape. If you’re bumped from behind, this may be by people who want to steal your car so be wary of getting out unless there are plenty of people about.
Thieves sometimes tow away cars that are parked so try to use somewhere that has a height restriction to prevent tow trucks getting in. If you are threatened by someone who wants to steal your car, however, it may be better to give up your keys rather than risk being badly injured.
5. Hide Your Valuables
Opportunist thieves will likely break into a car if they see valuable possessions inside. This not only means that you lose those possessions but also that you have a broken window to deal with. Always put clothes, bags and other possessions where they can’t be seen by thieves. This also includes removing a sat nav and any signs that it’s been there, plus a removable stereo or its front panel if applicable. Taking temptation away will decrease the chances of theft.
6. Improve Your Car’s Security
Most modern cars come with a car ghost immobiliser and steering lock, although the latter is easily broken by experienced thieves. To make your security more effective, you can add:
- security locks for the steering wheel, pedals or gear stick, which will act as visible deterrents
- etching of the car registration on the windows
- a Thatcham-approved car alarm installation
- a vehicle tracking device that will give you more chance of recovering your car if it’s stolen.