Autumn is a busy time for car criminals as people spend more time in doors and thieves benefit from the darker evenings. Car theft remains a big problem in the UK, with almost 120,000 cars stolen each year.
Despite technological advances in vehicle security, there is growing sophistication of car thieves, and high-end vehicles that were previously seen as un-stealable are now the most targeted. But what can be done to keep cars safe?
InsuretheGap.com, which protects car buyers from losing money if their car is written off or stolen, has launched its top tips on how to protect cars from the 21st century car thief.
- Stow valuables away
This might seem obvious, however car owners continue to leave valuables such as phones and sat-navs in full sight whilst the vehicle is unattended. Although this may not deter thieves who are targeting a particular vehicle type, it may attract the attention of more opportune thieves who happen to be passing by – even leaving a charger in view can suggest that accompanying tech is also in the vehicle.
- Lock your vehicle
It is easy to forget to lock your vehicle, but some thieves routinely check car doors on the chance of this happening. Don’t chance it! Take a few extra seconds to check the car is secure before departing.
- Park in busy, well-lit areas
Parking in a well-lit built up area is likely to put off the majority of thieves looking to operate away from prying eyes. If this isn’t possible or practical, try and park in the vicinity of CCTV cameras or a pedestrian thoroughfare as professional carjackers aren’t likely to operate in these areas.
- Use a steering wheel clamp
Although they can be an annoyance to use, particularly when parking for a short period, a steering wheel lock is a great deterrence. Although not impossible to overcome, they’re an added and unwelcomed complication that would put off many hardened thieves.
- Beware of carjacking scams
Although not as common in the UK as they are elsewhere in the world, carjacking scams do happen. Two of the most common are;
The Good Samaritan – This is where a group of scammers stage a breakdown or accident and flag for assistance from passing vehicles. Once a passer-by stops and the Samaritan exits their vehicle, a thief then jumps into the unattended vehicle and drives away.
TIP – If you do happen to stop to help another motorist or pedestrian, make sure you shut off your engine and take the keys out the ignition. This could be enough to put some carjackers off as it prevents a speedy getaway.
The Bump and Grab – In this example the carjacker, driving in a vehicle behind yours, will make light ‘accidental’ contact with your car in order for you to pull over to inspect the damage. Whilst distracted inspecting your vehicle the carjacker then makes off with your vehicle and leaves theirs by the side of the road.
TIP – If hit from the rear by someone driving a rundown vehicle be extra vigilant. Most carjackers involved in this sort of activity will use a car worth next to nothing as they abandon the vehicle at the scene.
- Protect your keys
It may be easier for thieves to target your keys than your car. Be wary of leaving your keys on tables in bars or restaurants, or visible in unattended clothing and bags. When at home, don’t keep them too near to your front door when you lock up at night as there are numerous cases each year of cars being taken by enterprising thieves who have “fished” car keys through letter boxes.
Ben Wooltorton, Director, InsuretheGap.com, said, “These tips might sound like common sense, but many of us would admit to sometimes forgetting to lock the car, leave valuables on show, or leaving car keys on a table in a pub. Just making these small changes can make a big difference to the chance of your car being taken”.
He continues, “If your car is stolen, the insurance company will only pay what the car is worth at the time. As cars lose between 15 – 35% of value in the first year, and 50 – 60% in the first three years, there is often a large ‘GAP’ between what was paid for the car, what is still owed on finance, and what the car is now worth. InsuretheGap.com offer polices that protect car buyers from this ‘GAP’, at a fraction of the cost of the policies sold by car dealerships.”
InsuretheGap.com has been launched by award-winning and FCA regulated, Halo Insurance Services Ltd, the team behind the leading provider of standalone car hire excess insurance, iCarhireinsurance.com.