It may be difficult to protect your car from a determined, professional thief, but most car crime is committed by opportunists who may be put off by relatively cheap security precautions and common sense.
Remember, it only takes a thief a few seconds to get into a vehicle.
By following these simple steps you could significantly reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of vehicle crime.
General vehicle security
- If your car doesn’t have one, fit a Thatcham approved alarm and use it.
- All new cars are fitted with electronic immobilisers but if your car is over four years old, consider having an approved immobiliser professionally fitted.
- If your car does not have them, fit a locking petrol cap and locking wheel nuts.
- Buy an approved steering lock and use it every time you leave the car.
- Have car windows security etched.
- Security mark all valuables in the car, such as radios and sat nav systems, using a marking solution and keep the security code for your car stereo in a safe place.
- Consider fitting an approved vehicle tracking device.
- Lock all windows, doors and the sunroof whenever you leave the vehicle, even for just a few minutes.
- Never leave keys in the ignition — even for just a few seconds or to heat the car up in winter.
- Remove all valuables — never leave anything on display.
Car key crime
'Car key crime' is where thieves specifically target car keys to steal cars - either by stealing keys or copying keys to then start and steal the car.
Reducing the risk
- When at home at night make sure car keys are not in view. However we do not advise keeping them in the bedroom. Keep your spare key in a safe secure place.
- If you have a garage, always make sure the car is parked in it overnight. Or consider approved bollards fitted to your driveway.
- Invest in an approved tracking device so if your car is stolen it stands a better chance of being traced. If your car is fitted with a tracking device make sure you know how to activate it.
- If you are bumped or rear-ended in a suspicious way, do not leave your car. Lock the doors and windows and drive to the nearest police station or call the police (101 or in an emergency dial 999).
- Never leave the keys in the ignition when leaving your car, e.g. when paying for petrol or getting a ticket to park.
- Treat your keys as you would any valuable item, do not leave them unattended in a public place or trust anyone with your keys unless you are absolutely confident you trust that person or company.
- Use a Park Mark approved car park www.parkmark.co.uk
Sat Navs and valuables in cars
Keep your Sat Nav safe from thieves by:
- Not using it on daily trips – you know the way to the supermarket!
- Take portable sat navs with you when leaving the car, together with the support cradle and suction pads remove sucker marks from the screen.
- Wipe away any suction pad marks left on the windscreen or dashboard and take or remove the cradle and cable - thieves will look out for these.
- Don't leave the equipment in the glove box – thieves will usually check there first.
- Don't leave anything on view in your vehicle. Thieves are opportunists and it only takes them moments to break into your vehicle.
What if it is stolen?
In the unfortunate event of your sat nav being stolen, the following advice could help its recovery:
- Visit Immobilise to register your sat nav on the UK's largest free database. If it's ever lost or stolen you're more likely to get it back.
- Mark your sat nav with your postcode or vehicle registration number using a special security marking product or UV pen.
- Make a note of the name, make, model and serial number and record it on Immobilise.
- Store your personal details in the sat nav hard drive on purchase.
Theft from vans
The advice above is all still relevant when driving vans. Although, when your whole livelihood is in one vehicle, it is even more important to think: prevent, secure and recover.
Always aim to park in busy, well lit areas and reverse into parking spaces against a wall or solid object, making the back of your vehicle inaccessible to potential thieves.
Always remove items from view and whenever possible, remove tools, stock and other equipment from the van, especially when leaving it overnight.
Visible security features can be a strong deterrent, so consider steering or handbrake locks, mesh grilles on load-bay windows and bulkhead to divide the load area from the cab and even consider pedal boxes.
Always use a garage or secure car park if they are available to you.
Security mark your tools and any other high value property by using products such as DNA property marking and UV pens and etch with your company name.
Consider security etching your van’s windows with the vehicle’s identification number.
Free motorbike marking
West Midlands Police have teamed up with six motorcycle dealers across the region to offer free DNA motorcycle marking.
Each of the dealers has 150 marking kits, paid for by money under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which allows the police to seize and sell criminal’s assets and then plough the money back into fighting crime.
The kits, which normally retail at about £30, consist of a bottle of DNA fluid, with which each part of the bike is painted. This fluid dries and is not detectable by eye but contains micro dots that are then unique to that bike.
The motorcycle dealers will mark the motorbikes for free and then register each bike on a dedicated website. If the bike or any part of it is then stolen and later recovered anywhere in the world officers will be able to identify the owner and gather much needed intelligence about where these stolen bikes are being traded.
To take advantage of this free offer, motorbike owners simply need call one of the dealers taking part in the scheme and make an appointment to visit them and get their bike marked.
Dealers taking part in the scheme are:
Black Country Motorcycles
0121 522 2525
0121 506 6800
2059 Coventry Road
0121 743 3506
104-108 Holbrook Ln,
Coventry CV6 4BH
024 7670 3900
Unit 2 Trident Retail Park
Watery Lane Middleway
0121 374 2895