According to official figures, an average of 133 cars are stolen every day in Britain. The thieves are no longer using crowbars and screwdrivers, instead resorting to sophisticated technology which uses loopholes in a car’s security to bypass the electronic locks and immobilisers.
This is the most important and basic way to prevent your car being stolen. Think about where you put your keys: if they are on a table in a public place, you will need to keep a close eye on them and make sure you’re not distracted.At home, you might need to change your habits and put your keys somewhere else in the house to keep them safe. The table in the hall could mean they are within reach of someone ‘fishing’ with a hook and pole. They will also be more susceptible to sophisticated relay thefts. Which brings us to point 2…
Relay theft relies on a remote reader being able to communicate with your keys, boost the signal and send it to another device near the car. This then pretends to be your key, allowing the car to be unlocked and started. To prevent this, you’ll need to block the signal. Pouches are available for just a few pounds online that will do the job, but you can also use a thick metal box. Hold it next to the car to see if the signal is blocked.
The next level of physical security is an old-fashioned steering wheel lock. The best of these will hold off a criminal for precious minutes and can only be defeated with power tools. Most thieves won’t bother.
Thieves don’t like working in places where they might be spotted or it will be difficult for them to escape quickly. If you are using a public car park, make sure you take the ticket with you and use a payment app rather than a pay-and-display, so the criminals don’t know when you are likely to return. Try to park in an open space away from dark corners or shrubs and look for good CCTV coverage.
Criminals hate cameras and will actively avoid them. Consider fitting one at home, or ensure your car is covered by a video doorbell. A dashcam which is hardwired to your car’s power will also be able to detect vibration and alert you, while saving footage to a ‘cloud’ so it doesn’t disappear if the car is stolen. Eden’s experts will be happy to talk you through the dashcam options for your new car.
Most new cars will have an app which will allow you to connect with the vehicle and monitor its status. This may include the location data and whether the doors are locked. Make sure you use it, and ask the Eden expert to show you how it works when they hand over your new vehicle. Some models also have the option to disable the ‘keyless’ function on the fob. It’s less convenient having to press the button, but less hassle than having your car stolen!
Tracking devices are one of the most effective ways of getting your car back if it is stolen. A professionally-fitted device may even be a requirement of your insurance policy, or at least provide a discount. Eden will be happy to take you through the options for trackers and have one fitted for you.
A car thief will change the numberplates on a stolen car at the first opportunity, using a number which can only be traced back to a legal car. You can make it awkward for thieves to change your plates and also more difficult to steal the plates from your car to create a ‘clone’. Sticky fixing pads are more secure than ordinary screws, but a combination of security screws and pads will really slow them down.
Once a thief has gained access to your car – either with a relay device or be using physical force – they will need to program a new key. They do this by hacking into the car’s brain via the data socket – called the OBD port. There are now locks available which make this much trickier to access.
Local social media groups aren’t just good for finding lost cats or moaning about bin collections. They can be a valuable source of crime prevention information. Your neighbours may be able to spot people acting suspiciously around your car for example.