WHEN LOOKING at ways to make your car safe from car thieves, you have to consider there are two types of car criminal. There are those who want to steal belongings from your car and the others who want to take the car itself.
Dealing with theft from cars first, deterring thieves starts from the moment you park up. Try to park somewhere well lit and with plenty of passers-by or clearly identified security cameras. Thieves don’t want to be spotted or disturbed, so will always move on to an easier target.
Always remember to lock your car when you leave it, even if it’s only to nip into a shop or pay for fuel, and also close the windows and sunroof. Don’t leave handbags, mobile phones, iPods or laptop computers on the passenger seat or in view as casual thieves will see this as an open invitation. Lock any valuables in the boot and try not to leave expensive items in the car when it’s parked. If you have a garage, use it as half of all car crime occurs right outside of the owner’s house.
Moving on to car theft, do not leave any insurance or registration documents in the car as this will make it easier for a criminal if they steal your car. Also, don’t leave spare set of keys under a plant pot in case you lose your main set of keys and try to put keys somewhere out of sight of the front door or post box. It’s called ‘fishing’ when thieves use a pole and hook to snatch keys through the letter box. The more secure your home is, the safer your car will be.
If a thief threatens you to take your car keys, just hand them over. It’s better to lose a car than your life.
However, you can make it much more difficult for your car to be stolen by garaging it or parking with the front wheels turned in towards the kerb. Leave the car parked in gear or, for automatic gearboxes, with the lever in Park to make it trickier to tow away.
As well as locking the doors, make sure older cars have an alarm fitted. All cars made from July 2004 must have an immobiliser fitted that prevents the car from being started without the correct key. Also consider a steering wheel cover or one that locks the gear stick in place.
Most modern cars have visible VIN (vehicle identification number) plates, but also look at having the windows etched with the car’s registration number. Ultra-violet marking is another way to put your stamp on a car and make it easier for the police to identify.
The ultimate anti-theft deterrent is a tracking device that lets the police find your car even when it’s been stolen by following the signal from a hidden transponder in the car.
Always remember that criminals are lazy and only looking for a simple life when stealing from a car or driving away in it. The more difficult you make it for them, the more likely they are to move on to the next, softer target.