The average theft claim on a car insurance policy is £12,397*. So having the right level of car insurance cover, and being able to prevent car theft in the first place is important. But this can sometimes be difficult as thieves are keeping up with the advances in vehicle technology. In this guide, we'll talk about ways you can prevent your car being stolen, for example by investing in extra security. We'll also look at what your car insurance covers.
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9 top tips to prevent your car being stolen
Here are the steps you can take to prevent car theft:
Have your car vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on each of the windows. Car thieves want an easy deal. They don’t want to go to the expense of replacing all the glass that could trace it back to its rightful owner.
Leave your car in gear with the wheels turned toward the curb, especially if you're parked on a hill. This makes it harder for thieves to tow your vehicle.
Don’t advertise your items. Always hide sat-navs or take them into your house. Try to remove the sucker pad residue too as this can be a giveaway. Never leave anything else that’s portable in sight.
Check that you've locked your car. It’s not uncommon for key fobs to malfunction and leave your car unlocked. Thieves know this and test doors to see whether they’re unlocked for an easy steal.
Be aware of your car modifications, such as chrome hub caps. They could make your car more attractive to thieves and vandals.
Don’t keep your keys in obvious places. Thieves have been known to offer random services, like clearing gutters, and take car keys that are on display in the home. It’s best to keep your keys hidden.
Invest in car security. Steering wheel locks and handbrake locks are effective methods for protecting your car from thieves. As well as providing an extra layer of security, the brightly coloured locks act as a visual deterrent to thieves.
Secure your data port. Many of the functions in your car are controlled by technology. Mechanics will plug into your data port to get diagnostic information too. It can also be used to unlock and start your vehicle. By installing a lockable data port cover you can block unwanted access.
Fit a tracking device. Although this doesn't prevent your car from being stolen, it can improve its chances of being recovered.
How do thieves mark cars to steal?
Sometimes thieves mark cars to steal and sell on for parts. They simply use a marker pen to mark the car.
There are also reports of criminals pushing in wing-mirrors to further draw attention to the car. They might even try to gain access to the car if the driver gets out to readjust the mirror.
Before you get into your vehicle, check for anything unusual. Look out for anyone hanging around your car, as well as any unusual marks. If you notice your wing-mirror is folded in, readjust it before you unlock your car.
For this reason, it’s always best to ensure you've parked in a well-lit location and all your valuables are hidden from view.
When do car thieves steal cars?
Many thieves are opportunists. They often take advantage of mistakes we all make, like leaving a rear window open or failing to lock the car.
Some car thieves will work to a pattern, being on the lookout for specific makes and models of cars, either for the vehicle as a sell-on proposal or for parts.
Even the humble Ford Fiesta is becoming a target for thieves. This beloved model was discontinued in 2022, so there could be more demand for the car and its parts.
Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker says:
“Opportunistic thieves know there'll be a demand for Fiesta parts and will be on the lookout for acquiring these vehicles at any chance they get.
We're urging Fiesta owners to ramp up their security methods to keep their cars safe, including a mix of modern and traditional security deterrents like crook locks and wheel clamps.”
“Although stolen vehicle tracking technology doesn't stop a thief from stealing a car, it's the only way to significantly help police quickly close the net on thieves and return the vehicle to its rightful owner.”
Even SUVs are popular with criminal firms. This is because they're effective at driving into windows or doors of properties to gain access. Vans are useful if you want to shift stolen goods.
Does car insurance cover car theft?
Usually a comprehensive car insurance policy covers you against car theft. This offers total protection and it’s often cheaper than the lower levels of cover.
But there are other levels of car insurance cover you can buy. The most basic is third-party-only insurance. It’s the lowest level of protection that's legally required for anyone driving on UK roads.
This insurance pays out if your car is hit by another vehicle. It doesn't protect you from loss or damage caused by a thief. For that, you need third-party, fire and theft.
This provides compensation if your car is broken into or stolen, as long as you’ve locked your vehicle.
Will insurance cover my stolen car if I left the keys in it?
Most insurance policy providers don’t cover the claim costs for drivers who leave their car keys, fobs or lock transmitters in, on or by the car.
Although this sounds like common sense, these mistakes aren’t uncommon. People regularly leave their car keys in doors while they’re at a supermarket as they gather their shopping bags.
Others leave their keys in the ignition while they de-ice their car or get rid of condensation, leaving their vehicle open to theft.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that while fobs are convenient, they don't always guarantee that your car is locked.
Try to avoid clicking on a fob from a distance. If the locking system doesn’t engage and your car is stolen or ransacked, you could encounter problems with any subsequent insurance claim.
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*Confused.com data. July 2022 - June 2023. Comprehensive policies only.