Ten ways to beat car thieves at their own game

stop car thieves Cars have never been more secure so it’s surprising that figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that vehicle thefts have risen by 30% over the past three years. Last year 85,688 cars were stolen so we decided to look at what’s driving the increase and how motorists can avoid becoming a statistic. 

Double check locking Car thieves are increasingly turning to technology to ply their trade and it’s estimated that one in four cars are stolen using a ‘lock jammer’. The electronic gadgets can be bought online (for next to nothing) and will block the locking signal between the driver’s key fob and the vehicle. Unwitting victims walk away from their car thinking it’s locked when it’s actually wide open. If the vehicle isn’t locked the chances are that the alarm and immobiliser won’t be armed; making life even easier for the criminals. Police are urging motorists to pay attention for secondary signs that the car has been locked (such as the audible clunk of the locking system or the indicator lights flashing) and be particularly vigilant in motorway service stations.

Hide what’s inside It isn’t just theft of vehicles that’s on the up, but also theft from vehicles. Last year saw an 8% increase in vehicle break-ins as opportunists help themselves to anything from Sat Navs half hidden under the dash to bags left on the back seat. Leave temptation lying around and you are asking for trouble.

Problem parking places There are certain parts of town that are a bit down-at-heel and you wouldn’t dream of leaving your car. However, looks can be deceptive and it’s easy to fall into a false sense of security in the well-heeled suburbs. Remember that seasoned car thieves will head straight to where they will find what they are looking for and that’s often the more affluent areas. No matter where you park make sure that it’s in a place that’s plainly visible to the public and well lit.

Antiquated security extras Cast your mind back to the 1980s and vehicle security didn’t get much tougher than a bright yellow steering wheel lock. In the intervening years things have moved on and today’s motorists tend to prefer more high-tech solutions such as vehicle trackers. At least they did until recently when tech-smart thieves began picking holes in electronic security systems. The country’s leading automotive store has reported skyrocketing sales in steering wheel locks as motorists are increasingly adopting a belt and braces approach to vehicle security.

Pinch and park Vehicle trackers are difficult to pinpoint and there’s a growing trend among thieves to park stolen cars locally and wait a few weeks to see if they are recovered. It’s certainly sneaky, but means it’s worthwhile scouring the streets if you can’t find your stolen vehicle.

Why colour counts We’ve already mentioned that criminal gangs are stealing cars to order and shipping them overseas, and it seems that some colours are more popular than others. Although we couldn’t find any hard facts there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that white vehicles are the most desirable as they are easier to sell in hot countries thanks to the reflective paintwork.

Top ten targets With criminal gangs stealing to order you won’t be surprised to read that they’ve got certain makes and models in their sights. The most coveted cars include Range Rovers, Land Rovers and prestige German marques, with the BMW X5 holding the dubious honour of being the most commonly stolen vehicle for the past six years running.

Careful with keys Advances in vehicle security means thieves are increasingly after your keys, whether that’s picking your pocket or stealing them from your home.

Signal relay theft Today’s car thieves are more likely to be armed with a laptop than a coat hanger and they’ve recently found an effective tech loophole to steal ‘smart entry’ and ‘smart start’ cars. Working in pairs one thief will get close to the driver’s key fob (whether in their pocket or hung-up in the hall) and use an easily-available gadget to ‘relay’ the signal to automatically open and start the car. Statistics show there’s been a surge in cars ‘stolen without keys’ and motorists are being urged to keep smart keys safe which means in a metal container (sensible suggestions include a pocket-sized signal blocking bag, less sensible suggestions include the fridge and microwave).

Don’t be idle Leaving your engine idling when you aren’t behind the wheel is asking for trouble; yet it’s surprisingly common in the winter months. In fact, it’s become so commonplace that it’s even got a nickname ‘frosting’ and refers to motorists that are so keen to warm-up their car (and defrost their windows) that they leave an open goal for thieves.

Car insurance won’t stop the worst from happening, but it does provide and an essential financial safety net. To find out more about how we can help cut your premiums visit our car insurance pages.









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