Vehicle crime accounts for around a quarter of all recorded crime in the UK, which makes it an important issue that requires addressing. There are various security methods available in the market to help you keep your vehicle out of the hands of car thieves, and the best choice for you will depend on your vehicle’s features and your budget.
I’ve created a run-down of the most popular ways to secure your car, along with some top tips, aiming to make it a little easier when making your decision.
As with any purchase for security and safety, opt for what you can afford and not just the cheapest, as there are significant performance differences between types, models and makes. Having more than one type of security measure will also give you a better chance of your vehicle staying where you left it.
At minimum, you should fit something highly visible, like a steering wheel lock, to stave off the opportunist thief, but back this up with a good quality alarm/immobiliser system. If this was fitted on its own, an opportunist may well fancy his chances, but you will find yourself with the hassle of replacing a window or lock. If you have a keyless entry system on your car, you are particularly vulnerable to the tech-savvy criminal and you should consider an OBD blocker as well.
When purchasing any security system, always look for ones that are labelled ‘Thatcham approved’. Thatcham is the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre where security systems are rigorously tested and approved, to make sure they are reliable, safe and effective at protecting your car from vehicle crime.
Below are my top security methods and tips for ensuring your car is fitted with the most efficient, and appropriate, security device for your vehicle.
Along with, potentially, bringing down the cost of your car insurance, ensuring your car is fitted with a car alarm is of paramount importance when considering the security of your vehicle. It’s the simplest method of theft prevention and would be best used in conjunction with another security precaution, but is very effective at providing an audible and visible alert to any attempted crime.
Similarly to an alarm, having an immobiliser may also reduce the cost of your car insurance, since it automatically renders your vehicle more secure. Simply put, an electronic immobiliser is a security device which prevents a car from being started without using the correct digital key.
Although this is a very effective method, it would be advisable to use another deterrent alongside, in order to maximise the security of your vehicle. Additionally, a Thatcham-approved immobiliser, unlike most cars’ standard security devices, will not be susceptible to attack via the OBD port.
Car tracking system
In the unfortunate event that the alarm/immobiliser has not been effective in theft prevention, having a vehicle tracking system installed is of great benefit in locating and recovering your stolen car.
Electronic tracking devices offer a real-time location of a stolen vehicle using GPS and VHF technologies. GPS technology is great for tracking a vehicle anywhere in the world, but the signal can sometimes be weak. VHF technology is incredibly precise. It is used by all of the UK’s police forces and is capable of locating a car even if it is stored in a garage or underground car park.
Steering wheel, gearstick and handbrake locks
Using either a steering wheel, gearstick or handbrake lock every time you leave your car, may help to make it more difficult for thieves to steal your vehicle and opportunists can be deterred by the visible security measure.
Visible security methods are very effective at theft prevention since they alert any potential thief to the extra time that would be required to steal the vehicle, therefore leaving the opportunist vulnerable of detection. Also, it highlights that the owner has gone to the extra effort to secure their vehicle, meaning they are less likely to have been neglectful in leaving anything of value in the car.
Secure parking and hiding valuables
This may seem obvious, but you should always try to park your car in as secure a location as possible. For homes with a garage or driveway, your options are simple; if parking on the street, make sure it’s in a well-lit position, ideally with CCTV located nearby; when you use a car park, try to find one with an attendant or a barrier entry.
For opportunistic thieves, looking for a quick ‘smash-and-grab’, leaving valuables on display in your car is a sure-fire way to invite an attack. The best place to store anything of value, if you can’t take it with you, is in the boot of the car, as the passenger compartment is an obvious place, which is still easily accessible for a thief.
Also, a useful tip is to make sure you store any valuables in the boot of your car prior to making your journey, as thieves may be on the lookout for you transferring your goods once you’ve arrived at your destination.