Car theft is on the rise in many parts of the UK.
In 2018 there was a nine per cent rise in car thefts around the country, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It marks the fourth year of rising car thefts after a sustained period of reductions. In 2013-14 a total of 75,308 vehicles were stolen – a figure which increased to 111,999 in 2017-18.
Part of that rise is being attributed to thieves exploiting vulnerabilities in technology – through relay attacks where cars with keyless entry systems are targeted.
However, a former criminal turned security expert has also warned that age-old mistakes are leaving owners at risk from opportunist thieves as well as organised gangs.
Research by Halfords showed nearly half (43 per cent) of drivers don’t check their car is locked before walking away and the same proportion leave their keys in plain site once they get home.
Forty-two per cent also leave their ownership documents in the car, making it easy for a thief to quickly sell on the car with the legitimate paperwork or use it to clone the car’s identity.
In the wake of this ex-con Michael Fraser has teamed up with Halfords to offer advice to motorists on how to keep their cars safe.
Michael says: “Car theft is usually an opportunistic crime. Thieves are looking to take advantage of any obvious weakness in your car’s security. Anything you can do to secure your car, and make it less vulnerable to theft is a really good thing.”
So here’s his advice:
Don’t rely on your car’s security system, however new it is
“If you have bought a new car, you might think it comes with a security system which will protect your car but many motors are quite vulnerable to theft; using a visual deterrent like a steering wheel lock which looks like a big strong dustbin lid that covers your entire steering wheel will put them off.”
Think about how you park your car
“Most people straighten up their wheels when parking, making it easy for thieves to drive away quickly. By parking your car with the wheels turned into the kerb, thieves will have to make more manoeuvres to drive off. Parking in a row of cars or facing a wall will also deter criminals.”
Consider where you leave your key fob
“Many car owners believe that locking their keys in a drawer or placing them out of sight in a secure home is enough to protect their vehicles but criminals can use devices that rely the signal from keys and unlock devices remotely. Keep your keys at least 20m away from any doors, criminals can’t pick up a signal. You can also use an RFID Wallets which provide a casing for your keys.”
Don’t have a messy car
“One of the biggest mistakes that car owners make is leaving rubbish and mess lying around. When a criminal walks past they will see this as an opportunity to find something valuable. Keeping valuables out of sight and tidying away any rubbish is an effective way to deter criminals.
Use a dash cam with a surveillance mode
“Use a dash cam that has a surveillance mode. All dash cams are designed to record your drive, but did you know there are some dashboard cameras that can also monitor your car when you are not there. It is a very useful feature to guard against any would-be thieves or if you are worried about any potential vandalism on your car.”
Pavan Sondhi, Halfords’ car security expert ads: “New in-car security systems can only do so much to prevent a car being stolen. From our research it seems that many anti-theft systems can be easily bypassed and using a simple device like an RFID wallet can prevent your fob being hacked for a small amount of money.
“We’ve seen sales of these soar by four times in the last few weeks, while classic old school steel steering locks also remain an extremely effective – and visual – way of deterring thieves, and we’ve recently seen a huge increase in sales of these too.”