Although vehicle crime has dropped by more than 66% since it peaked in 1995 there were still nearly 1.5 million vehicle-related thefts recorded in 2007-08. During this period, car-related crimes accounted for 13% of all recorded crime in England and Wales but on a happier note having security equipment on your car – especially an immobiliser – makes your vehicle more than ten times safer than a car with no security equipment.
With knowledge about how thieves steal cars you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. Listed below are ten methods used by criminals to break into vehicles and ways in which you can deter such attacks. No specific details have been divulged to help thieves.
1. Bump against the car to check for a car alarm. The frequency of false alarms has meant that people have been conditioned to ignore them. Instead of a motion-sensitive car alarm, use one that has a pager that will notify you as soon as your alarm is activated. You should only buy security devices or services that are approved by either Thatcham or by Sold Secure .
2. Break the window or jemmy the lock to gain entry into a locked car. Don’t tempt car thieves. Keep valuables out of sight by storing them in the boot or better still take them with you.
3. Look for car alarm decals to figure out which method to use to eliminate the alarm. Never display stickers that advertise what sort of car alarm you have, or audio system for that matter.
4. Jump into an unattended running car while the owner is at the ATM, dropping off videos, etc. Never leave your keys in the ignition even for a quick errand. Car theft is a crime of opportunity, so don’t make it easy for them to grab yours.
5. Look for the car’s registration document or anything with a home address on it. Keep your registration and insurance information with you and never leave personal information in your car.
6. Get the car keys from the house. When you go to bed, make sure your car keys are not on view or within range of letter box openings or cat flaps. Thieves have been known to use fishing rods to pick up keys left many feet away.
7. Stake out sporting fixtures, cinemas and shopping centre car parks for the car of your choice since they offer the largest variety of cars in one area. When parking outside, always try and park your car in an attended car park. Try to look for a public car park which is part of the police approved Park Mark-Safer Parking Scheme and displays the Park Mark® brand. . Don’t park in the farthest corner of the car park but rather near the entrance to ensure the most foot traffic (and the most potential witnesses).
8. Find the second set of keys the owner “hid” in the car. Don’t leave spare keys in your car or in a magnetic box attached to the underside of your car. Thieves know where all the “hiding places” are.
9. Let’s have those wheels off. Secure your wheels using locking wheel nuts. These are cheap, easy to fit and stop thieves from taking your wheels.
10. It will never be traced. Have your vehicle registration number or the last seven digits of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etched onto all windows, both windscreens and your headlamps.
Even though car theft is a crime of opportunity, if a crook really wants your car, he’ll do whatever it takes to get it regardless of steering wheel locks or car alarms. But with the above knowledge, you can slow him down, make your car inconvenient to him and, hopefully, discourage him from attempting to steal your vehicle. Layering your car with anti-theft protection, especially if it’s at the top of the most stolen vehicles list, is a good start. But, as with anything that is of value to you, the most important protection you can give your car is to take a proactive approach to security when you leave it unattended.