Due to the cutting-edge security features of modern vehicles, you’d be forgiven for assuming your car is now safer than ever before. However, there’s no denying that criminals are becoming much more advanced in their methods, with the latest ONS figures showing a dramatic 56% increase in the number of reported car thefts.
Gone are the days of sheer opportunism and broken windows, as thieves instead start using high-tech methods to expose the weaknesses of modern keyless entry systems; opening car doors by tricking vehicles into believing the key is nearby. In fact, criminals enter through unlocked doors in 50% of all vehicle thefts, while just 14% involve a lock or door being forced open.
Since every motorist fears the very prospect of having their vehicle stolen, we’ve put together some top tips on how to improve car security this year:
Install a Real-Time GPS Car Tracker
Not only do they help lower insurance premiums and offer incredible peace of mind, real-time car trackers can prove absolutely essential in recovering a stolen vehicle. Although a hidden tracker might not deter criminals from actually carrying out the theft, it allows the authorities to pinpoint the exact location of your car and significantly increases the chances of catching those responsible.
The best trackers will even alert you as soon as your vehicle has moved off the driveway, while there are now plenty of fantastic subscription-free options for you to consider. Either way, GPS trackers offer an invaluable last line of defence.
Find a Secure Parking Location
Although the recent spike in car theft figures has been attributed to the development of pre-planned, high-tech methods, motorists should remain wary of the threat posed by opportunistic theft. Potential thieves are always on the prowl for poorly protected, vulnerable-looking vehicles, which is why it’s so important to find a safe and secure place to park.
Drivers with access to a garage, driveway or gated parking lot should always seek to use these facilities, while those without access to off-road parking should try to park in clear view of their property– preferably in a well-lit area with plenty of other vehicles around.
Make Sure an Alarm is Fitted
The majority of modern cars will come with an in-built alarm system, but drivers of older models may need to arrange their own installation. Regardless of the vehicle you’re currently driving, an effective alarm can always prove vital in deterring thieves and keeping your car safe at night.
Even though they might not be able to physically prevent someone from stealing your car, alarms attract unwanted attention and ultimately increase awareness of the theft in progress. The blaring noise is often impossible to ignore, causing many thieves to panic and turn tail before anyone notices what they’re up to.
Of course, this means your vehicle stays exactly where you left it, rather than seemingly vanishing into thin air.
Check You Have a Car Immobiliser
Just as with the alarms, most modern cars will come with factory-fitted immobilisers (as they’ve been compulsory in vehicle manufacturing since 1998), while older cars will probably need to have these installed separately.
In short, a car immobiliser will make it almost impossible for a thief to start your car without the proper key, which is why criminals typically don’t bother trying to ‘hotwire’ vehicles anymore. However, it’s important to make sure both of your alarm and immobiliser systems are Thatcham-approved, since this is the only way you can ensure your security measures are completely up to scratch.
Try Out a Steering Wheel Lock
If you want to take your security measures to a more extreme level, then you should certainly consider installing a steering wheel lock. Not only will this make it incredibly difficult for a thief to actually move or steer your vehicle, the sight of a secure lock across the wheel has always been one of the biggest deterrents to potential thieves.
There’s no denying that this is still one of the most cost-effective car security solutions, and some drivers will even go as far as installing gear stick and handbrake locks; even though they perhaps aren’t as effective as more modern forms of security.
Don’t Forget to Lock Your Doors!
As we’ve previously mentioned, over half of all UK car thefts involve thieves entering the vehicle through an unlocked door. While the rise of keyless car hacking is undoubtedly having a major impact on these figures, sometimes the driver has simply forgotten to lock their doors.
The greatest security measure you can implement is your own vigilance and alertness, which obviously involves making sure the doors have locked behind you. When you combine this with the security methods outlined above, you should feel much more confident about deterring criminals and keeping your vehicle safe in 2019.