Vehicle Security Hints & Tips
Vehicle theft is an unfortunate fact of life. The following information
is intended to help prevent you becoming a victim.
Did you know?
112,000 vehicle thefts reported last year meaning a vehicle is stolen every 5 minutes. That’s a rise of almost 50% in the last 5 years* with a large volume of vehicles never recovered.
* Office for National Statistics data for 2017 and 2018 / Police recorded crime and Crime Survey England & Wales
Car theft practices have radically changed to overcome latest vehicle technology & vehicle security.
Organised vehicle theft – organisations common in the UK.
Violent car theft on the rise in the UK & Europe.
Over 75% of vehicles are stolen with keys resulting in house break ins and personal attack on occasions. However ‘relay theft’ exploiting vulnerabilities of keyless systems is on the rise.
A motorcycle is over twice as likely to be stolen as a car.
Here are our top vehicle security tips:
Fit a vehicle tracking system
Fit a Thatcham Accredited Stolen Vehicle Tracking System. With ScorpionTrack systems, your vehicle will be monitored 24/7/365 by our in-house Monitoring Centre who will co-ordinate with local Police Forces in the event of a confirmed vehicle theft. Scorpion customers enjoy an exemplary recovery rate with many vehicles recovered in under 60 minutes with little or no damage. In addition, systems like ScorpionTrack also come with a handy smartphone app.
Fit an alarm and always use it
An alarm will not physically stop a thief; however they are a powerful deterrent and won’t let a thief operate anonymously. Many of our alarms have an immobilisation systems integrated, providing comprehensive protection and not subject to the same ‘hacking vulnerabilities of manufacturer-supplied systems. Make sure you activate your alarm every time you park your vehicle.
Fit an immobiliser
An immobiliser is an electronic device which prevents the vehicle’s ignition and/or starter motor from operating unless the unit detects a paired immobilisation tag/fob. An immobiliser is a great, simple and cost-effective solution. Aftermarket immobilisation systems that are totally independent of the vehicle’s onboard technology are becoming increasingly popular as they are not subject to the ‘hacking’ vulnerabilities of manufacturer-supplied systems.
Keyless entry systems
Keyless entry car theft using radio transmitters to perform ‘relay’ car hacks is on the rise. If your concerns for security outweigh the convenience offered by such systems – check if your keyless entry fob can be turned off in favour of a conventional means of access. Store your keys away from entry points to your home or workplace and out of sight. Thieves only need to gain reasonable proximity to the key to amplify the signal. Relay devices can receive signals through windows, doors and walls but their performance is impaired by metal. Therefore, putting your keys in a metal tin or microwave can be effective. Alternatively, a more effective and practical solution is to keep your keyless fob in a metallised signal blocking Faraday pouch or wallet that blocks the RF signal emanating from the key.
Check for recalls & software updates
Consult your vehicle’s manufacturer or local franchised dealer to see if there have been any manufacturer recalls or software updates. Security related recalls and software updates are rare, but it’s worth checking and more importantly, doing so may alert you to any safety related faults. Some updates have involved refinements to critical safety systems such as avoiding unintended acceleration or anti-lock brake failures. Software updates are quite common and can be performed wirelessly over the internet known as ‘over-the-air’ (OTA) or by your local dealership.
Connected vehicle software
Using connected vehicle software via a web based portal or mobile app? If the software enables you to unlock, drop windows, start and track your vehicle remotely, it’s important that you restrict access to yourself and trusted individuals. Regularly check to see if your connected vehicle software is up to date, regularly change your passwords and ensure that your PC or mobile phone itself has adequate security with the latest software updates.
Parking your vehicle
If your home has a garage or driveway – use it! The highest proportion of all car crime takes place in the street outside the owner’s house, so don’t be complacent. If you are parking in the street, park in an open well-lit and populated area. If possible, try to park under the sight of a CCTV camera. If you are parking in a car park, try not to park near the exit and keep pay-on-exit tickets or tokens in your possession – not visible in your vehicle.
Conceal your keys and keep them safe
Keep your keys safe and out of sight at all times. Many owners carry their keys whilst shopping or leave their keys on tables whilst in pubs, cafes and restaurants. Clearly leaving your keys on display increases the risk of them being discreetly or forcefully taken from you. Many professional thieves steal to order and your keyfob signifies the brand of vehicle you’re driving which may be next on their hit list. In regard to keyless entry systems – please refer to the previous item.
Remove or hide belongings
Thieves will break into vehicles to steal absolutely anything, so keep your vehicle interior clutter free and your belongings out of sight – even if you are parked at home. Anything goes – sunglasses, shoes, jackets, CDs, full carrier bags, mobile phones, sat navs and cash. Avoid leaving sat nav holders on the windscreen and wipe-off any circular suction marks left on the glass. Remove evidence of mobile devices such as charging cables and cases as opportunist thieves will break into a vehicle on the off-chance that a phone or tablet has been left in the vehicle.
Lock the vehicle’s doors, windows & remove keys from ignition.
When parked at home, place of work, fuel station or local shop – lock the doors, close the windows and take your keys inside with you. From our experience, we find instances of stolen vehicles in which windows have been left down in summer months and the keys are left in the ignition. Owners who leave their vehicle’s running, particularly in winter months to defrost windows and warm the interior are prominent targets for many opportunist thieves. There are even be instances in which thieves have stolen the unattended, running vehicle with children passengers present in the back seat. Whilst defrosting and warming your vehicle – remain with your vehicle, be vigilant of your surroundings so you can keep yourself safe from an approach by a would-be thief.
ID Marking & Etching
Marking your vehicle can be as simple as writing on various parts of the vehicle with a ultra-violet pen, or as sophisticated as covering the vehicle with hundreds of micro dots – each encoded with your identifiable details. Etching involves ingraining your VIN or registration number into the vehicle’s windows and light covers. Catalytic converters (or ‘Cats’) contain platinum, palladium and rhodium used to accelerate the chemical reactions of converting harmful pollutants into water vapour or less harmful gases. Given their composition of precious metals, cats carry a high scrap value and therefore are a target for thieves. Whilst they will not prevent your vehicle being stolen, marking and etching you vehicle will serve as a deterrent. Many local police forces offer free of charge marking events so enquire with your local constabulary.
Locking Wheel Nuts
Alloy wheels are a target for thieves given their high resell value, with their theft leaving the vehicle’s owner stranded. If you vehicle is not equipped with locking wheel nuts consider fitting them. Thieves can quickly and easily jack a car and remove standard wheel nuts. However, locking wheel nuts tend to have rounded heads making them impossible to remove with a standard wrench. Locking wheel nuts have a distinct pattern cut into the head which matches the profile of the supplied locking key. They tend to be enough to deter wheel thieves. It’s important you keep the key safe and remember where it is should you need to change a tyre or require replacement brakes.
If you’re buying a second hand vehicle, be wary of those that appear to be ‘bargains’. Have a good look at the registration documents and always check the vehicle’s history with HPI Group Ltd, Carwatch UK Ltd., the AA or the RAC.