We all need wheels on our cars. Without them, we’re going nowhere. And for decades car manufacturers have taken these essential car components and turned them into highly coveted must-haves, giving them sporty designs, dual colours and a smart alloy finish.
Unfortunately, anything that’s desirable on a car usually attracts the unwanted attention of crooks – and alloy wheels are no exception.
Recent research by price comparison website Compare The Market showed that alloys were the second most stolen car part in the UK, after wing mirrors (which in modern cars, house valuable and expensive sensory equipment).
Car badges, number plates and catalytic converters were the other parts most likely to be taken, according to the ‘UK Vehicle Theft Report’ research.
With the average cost of a car part theft standing at £750 – and with one in five motorists being the victim of a robbery worth more than £1,200 – it’s a frustrating and expensive matter if you find yourself at the wrong end of a component crime.
And if a theft happens to be of your wheels it’s doubly disastrous, as there will be no way of moving your car with one or more wheel missing.
Top ten tips
So what can you do to protect yourself against wheel theft? Here are our top 10 tips to reduce the chances of losing them:
1. Be seen. When you park on a public street, make sure it’s well-lit and in a busy area. If there are people milling around, it’s less likely you’ll lose your wheels.
2. Use the kerbs. Make your wheels harder to steal by parking close to the kerb, or leave the car next to a wall – that’s two wheels safe at least.
3. Turn the steering wheel. As you park up, turn the front wheels towards full lock. They are much harder to remove like that and you’ll be slowing the thieves up.
4. Wheel locks. Most modern cars come with locking wheel nuts as standard but if you haven’t got them, invest in a set. Upgrade if you are unhappy with what you have, but keep the keys safe – you’ll need them if you get a puncture!
5. Wheel clamps. A full clamp, similar to the type used by local authorities to punish illegal parkers, can also protect your wheels. Although they are primarily used to stop a car being towed or driven, they also prevent wheel theft.
6. Tilt sensors. These protect the entire vehicle from theft by detecting when it has been raised – and that could be to put it onto a tow truck or have wheels removed. It’s a possible good investment for your car and expensive alloys.
7. Lock the car away. If you have a garage at home, use it. An extra barrier for thieves to tackle will increase the likelihood of them looking elsewhere.
8. Invest in CCTV. If you leave your car on a driveway overnight, have a camera pointing at it so you can monitor what’s going on outside. Simply having a camera on show will deter many gangs.
9. Improve your lighting. If you don’t want to go as far as CCTV, fit some motion sensor lighting outside your house, especially above the space where you park your car. Any kind of deterrent will work in your favour.
10. Look out for others. Contact your neighbours and develop a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ group to keep an eye on everyone’s home, driveway and cars.