Car theft prevention: Top Tips

We go through some simple ways you can prevent your car being stolen.

Criminal accessing a car

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

You wouldn’t put your watch on your driveway or a curb and expect it to be there in the morning, but cars? What choice do you have?

Of course, there’s no alternative, and frankly, if someone wants to snaffle a car they can do so very quickly. That’s not to say there is nothing you can do.

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

Here, we take a peek at some of the best ways to prevent your car from being stolen.


Tops 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 is 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 are 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. 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 wingmirrors 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 wingmirror 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.

It can cost a considerable sum to replace a smashed window, and even though you’re insured it’s debatable whether lodging a claim is worth the hassle.


How has COVID-19 effected car theft?

Crime figures in general dropped in tandem with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. With more people staying at home, avoiding the streets, shops, pubs and venues, everything slowed.

This resulted in fewer cars being parked in relatively vulnerable places. But vehicle thefts are still a problem. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that there is pretty much no pattern when it comes to cars being snatched. 

Since coronavirus, the vehicle theft figures have gravitated around the 950 cars a month level. Nights are more popular with thieves than other times, but opportunists don’t work to a strict schedule.

Most 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 crooks 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. With this in mind it’s worth revising some of the top tips to deter the criminally minded.


Does car insurance cover car theft?

There are three 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.