Rising Vehicle Thefts: Protect your car from thieves

Vehicle theft is a serious problem in the UK, with more than 130,000 cars stolen in 2022/23, according to the Office of National Statistics. That’s a 25% increase from the previous year, and the highest number since 2009/10. What’s more, only 5.7% of car thefts result in a charge or summons, and 72% of stolen cars are never returned to their owners.

So, how can you prevent your car from becoming a target for thieves? Here are some tips to keep your car safe and secure.

Lock your car and keep your keys safe

This may sound obvious, but many car thefts are opportunistic and happen because the owner left the car unlocked, the windows open, or the keys in plain sight. Always lock your car, even if you’re just popping out for a few minutes, and check that all the doors and windows are closed. Don’t leave your keys in the ignition, on the seat, or in the glove box. And don’t leave your car running unattended, even to de-ice it or warm it up in cold weather. This is not only risky, but also illegal and could invalidate your insurance.

When you’re at home, keep your car keys out of sight and away from your front door. Thieves can use a device called a ‘relay amplifier’ to capture the signal from your keyless entry fob and unlock your car remotely. To prevent this, store your keys in a signal-blocking pouch, such as a Faraday bag, or in a metal box. You can also turn off the wireless signal on your fob when it’s not in use, or re-programme it if you buy a second-hand car.


Related Reading: Top Tips on How to Prevent Car Theft


Park in a safe and well-lit place

Where you park your car can make a big difference in deterring thieves. If possible, park in a garage or a driveway, or in a secure car park with CCTV and good lighting. Look for the ‘Park Mark’ logo, which indicates that the car park meets recognised security standards. If you have to park on the street, choose a busy and well-lit area, and avoid dark alleys or secluded spots. Park close to other cars, facing the road, and turn your wheels towards the kerb. This will make it harder for thieves to tow or drive away your car.

Use additional security devices

Modern cars have built-in security features, such as alarms, immobilisers, and tracking devices, that can help prevent or recover your car from theft. However, these are not fool proof, and thieves can use sophisticated methods to bypass them. That’s why it’s a good idea to use additional security devices, such as steering wheel locks, wheel clamps, gearstick locks, or pedal locks. These are visible deterrents that can make your car less attractive to thieves, and more difficult to steal. You can also use a Sold Secure approved anti-theft device, which has been tested and certified by an independent body.

Don’t leave valuables or personal items in your car

Another way to avoid attracting thieves is to keep your car clean and tidy and remove any valuables or personal items from it. Don’t leave anything on display, such as your phone, wallet, laptop, sat nav, or even loose change. These can tempt thieves to break into your car, or even steal it if they think there’s something valuable inside. If you must leave something in your car, hide it in the boot or under the seat, and make sure it’s not visible from the outside. You should also remove any documents that contain your personal or vehicle details, such as your driving licence, registration, or insurance. These can be used by thieves to clone your identity or sell your car.

Be alert and report any suspicious activity

Finally, the best way to protect your car from thieves is to be alert and aware of your surroundings. If you see anyone acting suspiciously around your car, or any other car, don’t ignore it. Report it to the police or the car park staff, and note down any details, such as the person’s appearance, clothing, or vehicle. You could also join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, or start one in your area, to help prevent and reduce crime in your community. By working together, we can make our streets safer and our cars more secure.