Having your car stolen or vandalised can be devastating and costly, so here are five ways to avoid your car being stolen or damaged...
- If you can't park in a private garage or driveway, try to make sure your car is kept in a well-lit street
- Always keep your car keys safe and out of sight
- Never leave valuables like your mobile phone, handbag or computer in the car
With over 100,000 vehicles stolen in the last year, it's more important than ever to make sure you're doing all you can to protect your car and deter thieves. So, let's take a look at what we can do...
Be careful which car you buy
If you own a Range Rover sport, a BMW X5, or a Mercedes-Benz E-class, watch out! Your cars have the dubious honour of being one of the most stolen cars in the UK.
SUVs are a thief's favourite type of vehicle, but prestige saloons are also fair game with the Mercedes C and E classes and BMW's Series 3 models all in the top ten of most stolen cars.
One of the most popular ways of stealing these cars is via keyless relay and OBD (on board diagnostic port) theft, so being vigilant with where you keep your keys in the house and ensuring your car is locked properly is essential.
Help secure your car with our top five car security tips.
1. Be careful where you park
Park your car in a garage or on the drive if you can. If the driveway is gated, lock them. Out of sight can mean out of mind too. The more difficult you make it to access your vehicle, the less likely it is to get stolen.
If you can only park on the road, try to park under or near a street light where there are plenty of other cars and houses. Thieves don't like to be watched or have the possibility of being interrupted.
2. Keep your car keys safe
Many of us hang our car keys near the front or back door, where a thief could fish them out. Then it's a simple case of pushing the button to find out which car unlocks and they're off.
Cars with keyless entry add an extra element to the risk, as thieves have tech that can boost the signal from a key inside a house to unlock a car. Whether you have a key or a keyless fob, make sure you keep it as far from the doors as possible. You can also add an extra layer of security if you have keyless entry by investing in a signal-blocking container, a faraday pouch or even just putting them in kitchen drawers can help.
Most obvious of all, though: always lock your car and check that it has locked correctly. Thieves can also use signal blocking tech to prevent your car from locking giving them easy access after you’ve gone. It's tempting if you're just dashing back to the house to collect something you've forgotten, but never leave your keys in the car and every time you get out of the car, lock it.
3. Keep valuables out of sight
Much vehicle crime is opportunistic and if thieves spot something of value in your car, they'll take it.
Never leave valuables like your mobile phone, handbag or computer in the car, even in the glove box. If a thief suspects there is something of value in there, they'll break in to have a look.
Some car insurance policies will cover you if you have items stolen from your car with personal belongings cover, but there can be a limit to how much you can claim.
If you have personal belongings cover as part of your car insurance, your insurer will cover the items stolen from your car – although again, there's usually a limit to how much you can claim. For example, LV= will cover will you for up to £300 for personal belongings stolen from your car, with exceptions on some items. Check your policy for more information.
4. Use all available security devices
Some of your car’s security devices may come as standard, but if you don't use them, they're no good.
Make sure you invest in a set of locking wheel nuts if they didn't come with the car. You could also invest in a car immobiliser if your car doesn’t already have one and even fitting a steering wheel lock as an extra deterrent would help.
Some cars, particularly hybrid vehicles, are targeted by thieves who steal their catalytic converters for the precious metals they contain. To protect against this you may want to invest in catalytic converter lock or have your catalytic converter marked with Smartwater technology.
5. Fit a tracker
If you want to be able to recover your pride and joy even if it is stolen, a tracker will help you find out where it is.
GPS trackers are able to locate cars that are still on the streets, but VHF tracking technology can locate cars that are hidden in underground car parks or ready to be shipped in a container. They also can’t be jammed, like traditional GPS trackers. All insurers will tell you if it’s a requirement of the policy to fit a tracker.
Many of us also have a personal connection with our car – it’s a significant cost, we spend a lot of time with it, whether driving to work or giving friends and family lifts. Taking a moment to think about whether your car is secure can save you hurt down the road.
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