Every year in the UK , there are over 2,000,000 reported thefts of or from motor cars. Many victims admit to feeling traumatised following these thefts. There is no doubt that in the vast majority of cases, these crimes are committed by opportunist criminals who are looking for an easy way to make a bit of cash. The criminals are aware that the chance of them being caught is very low. The problem of car crime is so bad that in many cases, the Police will not even investigate. If you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of car crime, the distinct possibility is that when you telephone the Police to report the matter, you will merely be given a crime report number that you will need for your insurance claim. Realistically, the vast majority of thefts can be avoided by taking some simple preventative steps.
- The first and most obvious is to make sure that you lock your doors and close your windows every time you leave the car unattended. Set the electronic security devices and if you have a visible deterrent such as a ‘crook-lock', use it.
- Thieves strike very quickly so never have any property on display inside your car when you leave it unattended – even for a short period. You may feel that the contents of a bag left on the back seat are valueless, but the thief will not know that until he has smashed your window and had a look. Nothing may have been stolen but you will still have the trouble and expense of having to get the car repaired. So empty the vehicle and leave the glove box open to give a clear message that there is nothing inside.
- Make sure your vehicle is fitted with an alarm and an electronic immobiliser. These should be professionally installed and must meet Thatcham (the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre) standards.
- When you are at home, the car should be kept in a secure garage wherever possible. If you cannot do this, the car should be left secured, in an open, well illuminated area preferably overlooked by houses. If you are away, try to park where there are attendants. Many public car parks are specially secured by design and carry the ‘Park Mark' or 'Secure Car Park' symbol.
- Fit locking wheel nuts, especially if you have alloy wheels.
- Ensure that your registration number or last 7 digits of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is etched on the car windows and the headlight glass. Many windscreen repair companies will do this for you at very low cost.
- Owners of the more expensive range of luxury cars may find that their insurance companies will insist that a satellite tracking device is fitted before they will cover the vehicle for theft.
By taking these few measures you will significantly reduce the risk of becoming a car crime victim. Not only that, you will reduce the likelihood of having the problem of arranging the repair and/or replacement of your property and you may keep your no claim bonus intact. Insurance companies reward drivers who fit vehicle security to keep their vehicles and their contents safe by discounting the cost of car insurance policies. Check out your insurer and see what you can save.
Finally, if you need further advice on any crime prevention measures, contact your local police station. They will put you in touch with a trained crime reduction advisor.