With the UK back in lockdown for a third time, it means that many more people are staying at home a lot more than they are used to – and it also means that many cars and vans are sitting idle for long periods. What should owners do to ensure their vehicles are kept safe and in top working condition?
During the first lockdown during March, April and May 2020, vehicle theft went up, as opportunistic thieves took their chance to break into or take vehicles that were left unchecked for long periods of time. Now the UK is back in a lockdown – for how long we don’t know – drivers should take steps to ensure they are not the next victims of vehicle thieves.
Drivers also need to take steps to ensure that when they do come to use their car or van it is still in full working order – standing idle for long periods does not do a vehicle any good.
Even if you aren’t using your car to go to work – or anywhere else, for that matter – it is important that you do drive it at least once every two weeks. This will help to prevent its battery running out – and it can be a time-consuming process to jump start it into life again – and keeps the engine lubricated. Just a short journey, but one that involves some running in top gear, should be enough.
Drivers shouldn’t leave valuables in their vehicles at any time, but even more so if the vehicle is being left for an extended period of time. If the item – be it a sat-nav, dashcam or even change – can be easily seen, then there is a chance an opportunistic thief could try and break into the vehicle and steal it. If you drive a van, then of course all tools should be removed after it has been parked up.
Also, don’t leave the vehicle’s documents in the glove box. If the thief has those it makes it that much easier for them to sell it on.
Think about parking
The safest place to park a vehicle is in a garage, or on a gated driveway. However, for many people this isn’t possible, and the vehicle has to be parked on the street. If you do park on a street, try to ensure that it is in a place that is well lit and that has high footfall. This will lessen the chance of a thief trying to steal the vehicle as there is more chance of them being seen.
If you are parked on the drive of your home, your vehicle can still be a target for thieves, so it is worth considering installing additional security devices. For instance, motion-sensor lighting is an inexpensive safety device. Thieves prefer the dark where they can’t be seen – and this time of year there is plenty of that – so illuminating them with a bright light is the last thing they want. These are also useful when you come home in the dark and are looking for the lock on the front door.
Security cameras can also act as a visual deterrent to thieves. But if someone does steal your vehicle, then the footage the camera take can provide useful evidence to police.
Another consideration if you park on a drive is to install a security post. These posts are concreted into the driveway and can be laid flat or locked into an upright position behind the car. This makes things much more awkward for potential thieves as it means that cannot just drive away once they are in the car.
Old school security
Simple security measures such as a steering wheel lock or wheel clamp are also useful as they can provide a visual deterrent to thieves. Also, modern locks and clamps aren’t as easy to remove as those of yesteryear and anything that slows a thief down is likely to put them off as speed is often crucial to what they do.
Beware of keyless technology
If you drive a vehicle that uses a contactless fob to lock/unlock it, you need to be careful where you place your keys as they could be vulnerable to relay theft.
Basically, a relay theft is where two people – usually – work together. One stands by the vehicle they plan to steal, while the other stands near the house it belongs to with a device that can pick up the key fob’s signal. They don’t even have to be that close to the house – some devices can pick up the fob’s signal from more than 100 metres away.
The device relays the signal of the key fob to the vehicle, so the second person can get in and drive it away. It can take less than two minutes for criminals to get away with a vehicle using this method.
Relay thefts are a growing crime, and more than 50,000 vehicles are stolen this way each year, according to government statistics.
The most effective way to combat this type of theft is to keep your fob as far away from the vehicle as possible when it isn’t in use. The signal can also be blocked by keeping it in a faraday wallet or, if you don’t have one of those, a closed tin works just as well.
Fit a tracking system
While a tracking system might not stop your vehicle being stolen, it does offer an extra level of security as well as enhancing the chances of it being recovered successfully if the worst does happen.
While no security measures or precautions are ever 100% foolproof, following these tips should diminish the risk of your vehicle being stolen during this lockdown period. They should also help to keep the vehicle safe in more ‘normal’ times, which are hopefully ahead later this year.
For more information on enhancing the locks and security of your car or van, contact us or email us andour experienced auto locksmiths can give impartial advice on what is needed, and can also repair or replace any damaged locks on any vehicle on the UK roads today.