It’s a sad fact of life today that we must spend extra money to protect our possessions from being stolen, especially our cars. Car theft is today a serious matter and an entire industry has been born to develop and provide security systems to prevent cars from being stolen.
The systems offered today in almost every new car are reasonably effective in preventing theft. No longer are motion sensors enough; at one time, these served to sound the alarm when there was movement on the car. However, they proved problematic because even a loud burst of vibration from thunder could set the alarm off.
Today, the solution is to prevent the engine from being started and this is achieved by immobilising it. On modern engines with computerized engine management systems, additional programming makes it possible to allow the engine to start only if the right electronic code is received. Usually, the code is inside the key and is transmitted to the engine’s management system. Therefore, even if a thief can make a copy of your key, without the code in it, the engine still cannot start. An enhancement is the ‘rolling code’ which changes each time the car is locked/unlocked. By changing the code each time, a thief with equipment that can pick up codes will not be able to get the applicable code to start the car.
For those who wish to have additional peace of mind, there are other devices that can be installed as well. One of them is the ultrasonic sensor which will detect any movement inside the cabin. What this device does is to flood the cabin with ultrasonic soundwaves and when they are disrupted, then it means there is someone inside and the alarm will sound.
Another useful feature is the anti-tow sensor. This detects when the car is tilted – as when it is being towed away by the thief. Though this sounds quite amazing, it has been known to happen even in broad daylight! The thieves are bold enough to tow the car away to their workshop where they can try to disconnect the immobilizer.
Electronic systems are great and generally will protect your car well. However, some simpler devices and being cautious could also be just as effective. For example, a steering lock which is highly visible will often discourage a thief from picking your car. Thieves need to work fast because they could get caught so having to remove a steering lock is risky.
Where you park is also important and you should not put your car in areas where they are not so visible. Perhaps you have to walk a bit further if you park in a proper carpark but that would at least mean less chance of your car being stolen than if you parked in a back lane nearer your destination.
Because cars are usually equipped with some sort of device like an immobilizer, thieves have resorted to simply ‘hijacking’ them from the owner. This can be a frightening experience because the thief is likely to have a weapon and demand the key. Unless you are trained in martial arts and dare to fight them, it is best to surrender the key and hope they do not also take you with them.
You can reduce such a danger by parking in areas where there are many people passing by. Back lanes are more risky and at night, you should park in places with good lighting. Being a bit alert when approaching your car would also be useful as you may spot a suspicious character nearby and can avoid going to your car.
There are also GPS tracking systems available which can be installed in the car. One company selling them claims an 80% success rate in recovering stolen vehicles. Although the good systems are not cheap, you can have peace of mind knowing that if your vehicle is stolen, you might still get it back. That would be a relief for those who may have an outstanding loan to repay because, even when the vehicle is stolen, you will still have to pay the instalments until the police declare that they cannot find the vehicle (usually after a few months) and the insurance company pays you the compensation.