Car crime is on the rise in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics, vehicle-related offences reported to the police in 2017 showed a 17% increase on the previous year, equating to 929,000 offences. When it comes to car theft, the crime can be organised, with 89,000 cars being stolen in 2017. However, theft from cars is often an opportunistic crime and can be prevented. We are often very reliant on cars to get us around day-to-day and they are not cheap to own, so becoming a victim of car crime can come with an array of after effects including increased difficulties getting to work. That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how to secure your car and the benefits this will have.
The main reason to protect your car is to prevent anything from happening to it including being broken into or stolen. The added cost to install safety alarms may be a nuisance but can be worthwhile if it deters a thief and saves you money in the long run.
Another reason why it is beneficial to secure your car, that not all motorists may be aware of, is that it can decrease your car insurance premiums. Premiums are calculated based on risk, the more chance insurers feel you’re likely to make a claim, the higher your quote will be. This includes the security of your car. For example, if you live in an area that has a high crime rate or if you haven’t installed any safety devices, then your premium may be higher than those who live in an area that has a low crime rate or has an alarm system. Therefore, the extra cost to secure your car could balance out with a potentially lower cost on your car insurance.
There are many ways to improve your car’s security including installing safety features or simply leaving no desirables in your car. Here’s a list of some of the best ways to prevent your car from being stolen or broken into.
Car alarm: Most vehicles already have a basic car alarm system installed but if your car doesn’t have an alarm, it is highly recommended that you look into installing one. It may not be able to stop a thief from breaking into your car but it will draw attention to them in action and potentially frighten them away.
Car immobiliser: This is an electronic device that prevents a car from being started without the proper key. An immobiliser may not stop your car from being broken into, but it is more than likely to prevent it from being stolen.
Car tracking system: Whilst this isn’t a device that prevents your car from being stolen, it does help to recover it if this happens. Whether you opt for a GPS system, which locates vehicles at street level, or a VHF system that can find a car anywhere, the small transmitter that will be hidden in your car will track it down. Additionally, you could install a dash cam to capture the moment your car was broken into to help catch the criminals.
Steering, gearstick and handbrake locks: Having a solid metal lock on your steering wheel, gearstick or handbrake is an affordable option to protect your car. They may not be the most secure option, particularly for a pro-thief, but as a visible security feature, it may deter opportunists or slow them down in action for an increased chance for them to be caught.
Smart App: Some manufacturers have an app available so you can stay connected to your car. Many new cars, particularly premium cars, include this feature and it is recommended to make the most of it. Depending on the app, they can alert you if the alarm has been activated, they can track where your car is and much more.
Leave nothing on show: This can include expensive technology, like a sat-nav or your phone, as well as shopping bags. Even if they are low-value objects, a thief can still be tempted to break into your car to see what it is, potentially adding additional costs to your motoring bills to have it repaired.
Park in a safe place: Think about where you are parking your car. When parking away from home, park in a well-lit, secure area, either in a car park with a ticket barrier or underneath CCTV cameras. When parking at home make use of a driveway or garage if you have one.
Keep your car key safe: Never leave it in the car and don’t leave it near the front door of your house. If you own a car with a smart key, thieves are starting to use a technique called relay theft. One person waves a relay box outside your house hoping to pick up a signal from your key if it’s near the door, which is then passed to the second relay box held by the car which receives a signal to open your car.
If you become a victim of car crime, acting fast can give you the best chance of recovering the vehicle. The first step is not to panic. Follow these tips on what to do if your car has been broken into:
If you’re not in any danger, start with the non-emergency number 101 before you call 999. Make sure you get a copy of the police report number.
Damage to your car should be covered by your policy if you have third party, fire and theft or fully comprehensive insurance.
Get as much detail as you can including the time and date and what has been stolen.
Take your vehicle to a reputable garage, your insurance company should be able to help with the cost.
This includes the damage of the car and the surrounding area.
Your claim will go much smoother if you can prove you owned the items that were stolen and how much they cost.