Car Security | How to Prevent Car Theft
The thought of losing your car is enough to make anyone feel sick, whether you drive a brand new sports car or an 18-year-old hatchback you inherited from your grandma.
Unfortunately, car crime continues to rise in the UK, so the threat of your car being stolen or damaged is a real one.
That’s why car security is big business in the UK with hundreds of different pieces of vehicle security kit on the market.
So much so that deciding whether you should buy a car alarm instead of a wheel lock can be tricky.
We’ve looked at some of the best car security options available to help you decide what’s right for you – they won’t all prevent your car being stolen but some will help you get your car back.
The good news is that some security devices can also result in discounts on your car insurance too.
Car Tracking Devices
Car tracking devices are becoming increasingly popular in the UK because of how effective they are if your car is stolen.
Most tracking devices use GPS systems to display your car’s location, while other, more expensive units use VHF systems so your car can be tracked in underground car parks and storage containers.
Most trackers require a one-off payment up front and a monthly subscription charge on top. That can make them expensive but they are effective at recovering your vehicle and approved devices can result in discounts on your insurance too.
Wheel clamps are an obvious vehicle theft deterrent and an affordable option compared to tracking devices.
They’re easy to fit and as well as being difficult to remove for thieves, they act as a visible deterrent too.
Steering Wheel Locks
Steering wheel locks are a bit of a throwback but they’re another useful deterrent when it comes to would be car thieves.
It’s their low-tech make up which makes them so effective. With thieves able to clone car keys and bypass vehicle computers, the steering lock is an old fashioned way to slow thieves down.
Handbrake and gearstick locks
Handbrake and gearstick locks work in the same way as steering wheel locks.
The benefits are that they’re cheap, quick and easy to attach and are clearly visible deterrents to thieves.
Car alarms are an obvious security device and you’d be hard pushed to find a new car without one.
If you’ve got an old car without an alarm, you should think about getting one fitted and if you already have one, think about advertising the fact that it’s alarmed.
An alarm may not prevent your vehicle being stolen but if thieves know that they’re going to make an almighty racket when the alarm starts shrieking, they may go for an easier target.
All UK cars built since 1998 have immobilisers fitted as standard, so this only applies if your car is older.
Having an immobiliser retro-fitted to your car can result in lower car insurance premiums too.
Immobilisers are electronic devices that prevent your car from being started unless the proper key is being used. They’re not unbeatable but they will slow thieves down.
What else can I do to deter thieves?
Thieves are opportunistic on the whole, so car security is as much about deterrents as anything else.
Open windows or valuable items on display will tempt thieves so if you can limit temptation you can keep your car more secure.
On top of the security devices listed above, here’s some good practice to keep your car as safe as you can.
An obvious tip but keeping valuables hidden is a good way to keep thieves out of your car.
Don’t leave valuable items in your car if you can help it but if not keep them secure in your boot with the parcel shelf down. Leaving items like handbags and your sat nav on display is asking for trouble.
Lock your car
Again, an obvious tip but leaving your car locked, even if you’re away from your vehicle for a few minutes will deter opportunistic thieves.
Close your windows
Unless there’s an animal in your car, you should not leave windows open as it provides an opportunity for thieves to get inside.
While they may not make off with your vehicle, they will help themselves to anything valuable inside.
Keep your keys safe
When you get home, make sure your keys are out of sight and not within reach from your letterbox. It’s common for thieves to use coat hangers and hooks to fish keys from a sideboard near your front door.
If for whatever reason you do lose your keys, here’s a handy guide on how to replace them.
Park in the safest place possible
A locked garage isn’t an option for everyone but you should always try to park in as safe a place as possible.
If you can’t park in a garage, driveway or secure car park and need to leave your car on the street, make sure it’s in a well-lit and busy area. If CCTV can cover it, that’s a plus.
Lots of the tips listed here may not prevent your car from being stolen but they should slow thieves down, could deter them from attempting to steal your vehicle in the first place or help you retrieve your car in the worst-case scenario.
On top of that, using approved security devices could save you money on your car insurance policy too.
Sadly motorbikes are also a target for thieves so you may find our handy guide on how to keep your bike safe a useful read too.
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