If you’re driving an older car or just need to know about the basic security to a car, here is a list below of features and advice on how to keep your car safe and secure.
Lock the Car
This may seem like the most obvious measure to protect your vehicle but across the UK one of the most common reasons for car theft is owners either forgetting or failing to lock their car. Particularly if you are somewhere busy or somewhere that has a high crime rate you should always lock the car and test that it is locked by pulling on the handles before leaving.
This applies even if you are going to be away from the vehicle for a short time. Often car thieves will be ready to take advantage before you even arrive, waiting by car parks or on the street for someone who does not lock their car.
Be Aware of where you park
As mentioned before you should always be aware of crime rates when stopping somewhere with your car, especially if you’re leaving it there. In particular, if the area is known for having recent waves of car thefts you should plan accordingly. If there is a more secured parking structure it is worth considering paying the small fee to park inside that instead of street parking, even if it’s for less than an hour.
If there is not a secure parking structure then aim to park the car somewhere well lit, in view of where you are going and with higher foot traffic. If the area is busier or in front of an open establishment it will certainly deter thieves.
Install a car alarm
It may seem unnecessary as modern cars are fit with factory grade car alarms. Of course, if you have an older car with no such fitting than it’s a given that you should seek to install one. Car alarms must be stressed though, they are excellent deterrents for car thieves and easily alert others around the vehicle to the threat.
It should also be mentioned though that there are numerous new types of car alarms that go further and can send notifications and positions straight to your phone. Upgrading your car alarm can have numerous benefits, with almost every car having one nowadays it’s commonplace to ignore them. Upgrade your car alarm with features that suit your personal life, one that is not too sensitive so it’s not always going off, and one with a distinct alarm sound that you will easily recognize.
Consider a wheel lock
While this may seem out of date that in fact works to its advantage. Many car thieves today are experts in how to ‘hack’ a car’s electronic security system. They often do not have the heavy tools on hand to break through a wheel lock.
Wheel locks are often reasonably priced, though as you go up in quality and features the lock will reflect that. They are also intensely secure and painted a bright colour so they’re obvious to anyone looking in – deterring thefts.
A VIN is a unique Vehicle Number and it is possible to have these engraved onto multiple parts of the car. The numbers are put on places like mirrors and windows and other such places. Being in easy to see places these numbers are registered and make selling of any parts of your car extremely difficult.
What’s great is the process is very cost-effective and it works very well at deterring car thieves. If the car is stolen the VINs also help the police greatly at recovering the vehicle. Many car dealers may offer this but it is simple and cheap to get it done after purchase.
Next to leaving the car unlocked having valuables in clear sight is one of the biggest causes of petty crime theft. This will attract both the more professional thieves as well as small-time or desperate criminals. You should try not to leave valuables in the car if possible but if you do put them under the seats or in the glove box.
Also consider what constitutes a valuable. Clearly electronics like laptops, and mobile phones, but also be careful of shopping bags, tools and even expensive make-up. Your driving licence and other IDs should also be hidden and secure.
Install a GPS
Many cars are being built with GPS systems for the purpose of navigation. However, you can also opt to have one installed with the purpose of tracking your car in case of theft. You can have the system fitted to work alongside the alarm system and to go off during theft.
With newer systems you can even link the service to your mobile phone to receive notifications and limit the amount of distance made by the thief and to help police recover the car. This way you can track the car in real time.
Keep keys hidden
This is different to keeping valuables out of sight but no less important. This refers to keeping all sets of car keys secure at all times, including spare sets at home. House thieves can often target sets of keys with the ultimate purpose of stealing the car outside the house.
This also extends to being out of the house. If you are out a public place always make sure you know where your keys are. Pickpockets are notorious in some areas for lifting car keys. It might be worth to also consider keeping them in secure places if walking through districts with known pick-pocketing.
As of 1998 most cars have immobilizers installed so this is particularly important if you are driving an older or classic car. What the system does – and should be checked routinely – is electronically shut down the ignition of fuel systems so the car comes to a halt.
Check with your manufacturer how this works on your car and make sure it is functioning during every MOT. While it may not prevent theft it certainly stops it in its tracks.