How to improve your car security
Posted May 5th, 2021 by SimpliSafe
Don’t make it easy for thieves to steal your hard-earned, prized possessions. Most notably, your car. Given that around 74,769 vehicles were reported stolen in 2020, it’s always a good idea to have car security at the forefront of your mind and we’ve got just the guide to help. So, park up and have a read through our list of ways to deter car thieves and what car security systems are out there.
Don’t leave valuables in the car
It goes without saying to make sure you don’t leave any valuables behind in your car, no matter where you are parked. You’d be surprised how often people do forget. If you do need to leave things behind, move them to the boot so they are hidden, especially if it’s laptops or expensive equipment.
Keep your car keys safe
Another way to keep your vehicle safe is securing your car keys - your main and spare ones. That means always taking them with you when you pull over, no matter how tempting it may be to leave them in the ignition for a quick stop. Make sure they are always out of sight, and don’t leave them close to the front door, especially on any hallway tables or wall hooks. Keep them hidden away and as close to you as possible. You don’t want to be making it easy for any potential burglars to grab them and sometimes, house burglars are only on the hunt for keys to drive off with cars that have caught their eye.
As well as keeping car keys hidden and secured away, help deter burglars in the first place by installing a smart home security system with deterrent signs for your windows.
Test your car alarm
It’s always good to test your car alarm regularly to make sure it’s working properly. They’re a brilliant theft-deterrent system and are designed for alerting people in the area that someone has attempted to steal a car or valuables inside. You can even get advanced car alarm systems that come with extra features like mobile notifications, where you’re notified any time suspicious activities are detected.
Fortunately, most modern vehicles already come with factory alarm systems installed, but a lot of older cars don’t, so you need to be aware of this. If you do have an older or classic car model, it will be good to equip them with aftermarket alarm systems.
Car security gadgets
What can you do to improve your overall car security, aside from having a car alarm? Quite a few things, such as updating your car with good security tools.
Many cars already come with immobilisers, but if yours doesn’t, it’s definitely worth fitting an approved one. An immobiliser works by preventing an engine from running unless the correct coded key is present. So if anybody tries to start your car without its specific and correct coded key, they’ve got no chance with an immobiliser because the fuel pump, starter pump and ignition simply won’t work. This system also prevents a vehicle from being hot-wired. On top of that, by significantly reducing the risk of theft, you can cut down your insurance costs, win-win!
Hand brake, gear stick and steering wheel locks
A steering wheel lock is super effective. Just the sight of one is enough to deter a car thief and it’s so simple to use. They come in bright colours with the sole purpose to be easily spotted to put off wandering eyes. There’s also a range to choose from out there, based on your budget, as some come with advanced features. But, ultimately, what they do is fit securely to your steering wheel to prevent any movement, making it impossible for thieves to drive away.
It’s not just the steering wheel that can be locked either. Handbrakes and gearsticks can also be locked when not in use. Again, these locks work as brilliant visual deterrents because often they’re in bright colours, and can come with flashing lights.
Dash cams not only work as deterrents, but as soon as a bump or movement is detected (like a break-in), those with intelligent parking mode can start recording - even when the engine is switched off. And when opportunistic criminals and thieves are in a hurry and a panic, they can forget their face is being recorded, or they may have already noticed the dash cam and have been put off attempting to break into your vehicle.
Car tracking system
If your car unfortunately does get stolen and it has a tracker fitted, you can trace its movements and make it far easier to recover. Cars with tracking systems can sometimes help cut down insurance costs and some black box devices can double as trackers. The main two types of trackers are GPS and VHF. With GPS, your car can be located at street level and VHF can track cars that are in underground car parks or storage containers.
Marking and etching
Another great way to improve your car security, or rather to help with identifying any stolen parts, is with marking and etching. You can mark different parts of your vehicle with an ultra-violet pen (invisible pen), to be used for identification purposes. Etching is the process of ingraining your vehicle’s serial number or registration number into light covers and windows of your vehicle. Whilst these actions can’t prevent vehicle theft, they’ll help with identifying and recovery.
Install driveway bollards or gates
Something that often gets overlooked when it comes to vehicle security is driveway bollards or gates. Whether you have keyless entry, a luxurious model or an old banger, your cherished vehicles aren’t going anywhere with driveway security. Along with robust gates or bollards, install an outdoor home security camera and motion-sensor lights to fend off burglars.
If you have a garage, use it! As tempting as it may be to use it as just a storage room, keeping your car locked in it overnight is one of the best car security tips to take. Just make sure your garage door is secure. It’s also worth keeping on top of the maintenance of a garage door to show potential thieves you look after your home and that it’s robust.
Park in well-lit areas and think about location
When you’re driving around, going on trips, running errands or visiting others, always plan your routes so you’re not rushing into parking somewhere with a high crime rate. Look up car parks with 24-hour security or streets that are well-lit in areas that have low crime rates - check our crime in the UK tool to see the crime rates in your area. This may not always be easy to find out, but areas that have a lot of criminal activity tend to hit the news or get talked about on forums and local Facebook groups.
Beware of test-drive thieves
Maybe you’re ready for an upgrade and need to sell your car, well, just be mindful of test-drive thieves. There are thieves out there who will pose as prospective buyers, so they can get their hands on your keys and off they go on their ‘test drive’. And all you are left with is some false information and money lost. Unless you insist on seeing their insurance, driving licence and identification first, and accompanying them on the test drive. And ideally, you should take someone else along with you. If they are not happy with having you with them on the test drive, then that’s a red flag.
Driving should be relaxing and safe, but there are con artists all around, even on the roads. We can often get carried away with music, sat navs and families in the car, so we need to make sure we’re more aware of anything unusual. We should always be locking our doors and thieves know most vehicles on the roads are locked and that their chances of stealing a car when occupied is pretty low. That’s why they’re turning to other ways to get you to stop and get out, and why you should be cautious at all times.
Some car thieves have used the tactic of throwing things at windscreens to get drivers to use their wipers, which blocks their view. They then have to get out to clear the windows and thieves having the upperhand can jump in and catch you off guard.
Be careful of those posing as hitch-hikers. Slow down, keep doors locked and roll down your window ever so slightly to ask questions and get a closer look, but if it doesn’t feel right, then don’t invite them in. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and don’t feel rushed. Pause and suss out situations, staying on high alert.
And of course, always keep your doors locked. As soon as you get in the car, make sure all doors are locked straight away. A lot of cars now automatically lock all the doors once you’ve set off driving, which is handy in case you forget. When leaving the car, make sure everything is locked up, including the boot and bonnet. Cars can now highlight on the dashboard if the boot is unlocked or slightly open, so pay attention and make sure to shut doors properly.
It can’t be stressed enough to make sure you take valuables with you, as you don’t want to entice any thieves into breaking into your cars. Car thieves will also try their luck by intruding homes to see if car keys are in coat pockets, handbags, on kitchen tables, or in the hallway, so make sure you keep keys close by at night, and scare off burglars with a smart home burglar alarm which you can get right here.
Contact us today to find out which system can work for your property.