Car theft prevention

Car theft has always been a battle between the manufacturers and the thieves. As manufacturers come up with more secure theft prevention tech, the thieves counter with their own.

But there are still some simple ways you can help prevent your car being stolen.

Criminal accessing a car

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Preventing car theft

Cars are pretty unique in that they are high-value possessions that are left outside your home, on the driveway or on the street and in plain view.

Unless you can park in a garage there’s no alternative, and frankly, if someone wants to steal your car they can do so very quickly.

But there are actions you can take to prevent car theft. 

All a driver needs to accomplish is make it harder for a crook to steal their car than it is to nick the car next door. It’s not good news for your neighbour, but that’s life.

Here, we take a peek at some of the best methods of car theft prevention..


9 top tips to prevent your car being stolen

You can’t prevent a crook from sniffing around your car and potentially targeting it, either to steal the vehicle or just jemmy a door to access the sound system.

But there are a range of measures you can take to make your car less attractive to criminals. Here are some worth considering:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Don’t advertise your wares. Always hide sat-navs, and wet wipe the sucker pad residue, which is a giveaway. Never leave anything else that is portable in sight.

4. Check you have locked your car. It is not uncommon for key fobs to play up, meaning you wander off leaving your car exposed. Thieves know this and will touch-up doors to see whether they are unlocked.

5. Be aware of your car modifications, such as chrome hub caps. They'll make your car stand out and potentially more attractive to thieves and vandals.

6. Don’t keep your keys in obvious places. Thieves are cunning. They may knock on your door offering random services, such as clearing your gutters, when in fact all they want is the chance to swipe your car keys. Don’t leave them on hooks by the door, or some other obvious place. In general, it is a good idea to be aware of strangers, and don’t let them in.

7. Invest in car security. Crook locks, steering wheel locks and handbrake locks might seem old school, but these 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. 

8. Secure your data port. Many of the functions in your car are controlled by technology and mechanics will plug into your data port to get diagnostic information. Unfortunately a data port can also be used to both unlock and start your vehicle. By installing a lockable data port cover you can block their access.

9. Fit a tracking device. Although this won't prevent your car from being stolen, it can improve its chances of being recovered.


Protect your vehicle

Visit Tracker to improve your vehicle's security. Buy a tracking device
You can find more tips in our car security guide.

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's 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 that's hanging around your car or any marks. If you notice your wing-mirror is folded in, readjust it before you unlock your car. 

Remember, not every thief is after an Aston Martin or a Ferrari. SUVs are popular with criminal firms because they are effective at ramraiding shops, while vans are handy if you want to shift stolen goods.

Other cars, such as Ford Fiestas, are easy to quickly sell on – no criminal wants a garage full of evidence on their hands. For this reason, it’s always best to ensure you have parked in a well-lit location and all your valuables are hidden from view.


When do car thieves steal cars?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that there is pretty much no pattern when it comes to cars being snatched. 

Vehicle theft figures tend to be around 950 cars a month. Nights are more popular with thieves than other times, but opportunists don’t work to a strict schedule.

Many thieves are opportunists, taking advantage of silly mistakes we all make, such as leaving a rear window open or failing to lock the car.

However, 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.

And they will take advantage of any slip up.


Does car insurance cover car theft?

There are 3 main categories of car insurance. The most basic is third-party-only protection. It’s the lowest level of protection that is legally required for anyone driving on UK roads.

As the name suggests, this insurance will pay out if your car is hit by another vehicle. It will not protect you from loss or damage caused by a thief. For that, you’ll need the second rung of cover, which is third-party, fire and theft.

This will provide compensation if your car is broken into or stolen, providing you have taken the necessary precautions. Such as locking the vehicle and parking in a sensible location.

For total protection, it is recommended to get comprehensive insurance. Interestingly, this is often cheaper than the lower levels of protection because the profile of people who seek a better level of cover tends to marry with safer overall driving. So they’re less likely to make a claim.

It’s worth checking out quotes for comprehensive and third-party, fire and theft. You could be in for a nice surprise.

Compare car insurance quotes


Will insurance cover my stolen car if I left the keys in it?

Most insurance policy providers will look dimly on drivers who leave their car keys, fobs or lock transmitters in, on or by the car. This seems a no-brainer, but these mistakes aren’t that uncommon.

People regularly leave their car keys in doors while they’re at a supermarket, as they gather their shopping bags. Others might pop their keys on a nearby wall when washing their vehicle. It’s just a fact of life but, unfortunately, it’s one that will not elicit much sympathy from your insurer.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that while fobs are convenient, they do not 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.