Don't leave anything on display in your vehicle
- Most vehicle crime is opportunistic. If thieves think there is something valuable in your car, they will break in. Even something like an old coat or carrier bag can tempt a thief. They won't know that the coat is old or there is nothing in the pockets or in the carrier bag.
- Whenever possible, take everything out of the vehicle when you park it. Leave the glove compartment door open so that thieves can see that there is nothing in there.
- Try to remove everything from the boot too. Thieves are increasingly targeting car boots to see if there is anything worth stealing.
- If you do have a satellite navigation system, take both the sat nav and the cradle with you when you leave your car. Sat navs are particularly attractive items to thieves (along with laptops).
- Make sure you wipe the dashboard/windscreen to remove any marks made by the cradle's sucker. A cradle or sucker marks on the dashboard may make thieves think that the sat nav is hidden in the car.
- Avoid leaving the sat nav charger plugged into your cigarette lighter. Thieves can break in to your car thinking the sat nav is still inside somewhere.
Windows and Doors
- When leaving your car, always close all your windows, including the sunroof, lock all doors and take the keys with you.
- When driving, keep your doors locked and windows rolled up, especially when traffic is slow. It only takes a few seconds at a red light or in stationary traffic for a thief to reach in and take what's left on a seat.
- Take the ignition key out even when the vehicle is parked in your driveway or outside your house.
- If you need to keep the key in the ignition to defrost your vehicle in the winter, stay inside the vehicle at all times. Thieves target vehicles in the morning during cold weather when they know that people leave their vehicle unattended with the key in the ignition.
- Always set the alarm or immobiliser if you have one. Follow this routine even when you are only away from your vehicle for a short period of time such as filling up or paying at the petrol station or getting a car parking ticket.
- Do not leave your vehicle keys on display at home. Thieves are increasingly breaking into houses to steal car keys.
- At home, always park your vehicle in the garage if you have one and lock both the vehicle and the garage door.
- If you do not have a garage, try and park in a well-lit, open space.
- Try to look for a public car park which is part of the Police approved Safer Parking scheme and displays the Park Mark brand.
- These sites have been assessed by an independent inspector taking into consideration the design and layout of the car park and surrounding areas.
Steering Locks and Immobilisers
Older cars are particularly vulnerable so take extra safety precautions such as using a steering lock, gear lever lock or immobiliser. These provide a high visibility deterrent to thieves and are available from most garages or auto-centres.
- Fit an alarm. Alarms can deter thieves from stealing your vehicle and from breaking in to take items from inside.
- If you are buying a new car, make sure it has an alarm fitted as standard.
- Secure your wheels by using wheel nuts. Locking nuts are cheap and easy to fit.
- Use theft resistant number plates to prevent thieves taking them off your vehicle quickly. Stolen number plates are often used on other vehicles to commit offences such as speeding, avoiding congestion charges, ram raiding, driving away from a petrol forecourt without paying and disguising a stolen vehicle.
- If your number plates are stolen, contact the police immediately. This should prevent you receiving penalty charges for parking, speeding, and congestion charges, should the plates be used on another vehicle.
Mark Your Vehicle and Property
- Make sure any property you do leave in your car is marked with your postcode or vehicle registration.
- Make a note of any serial numbers and register any valuables using the free Immobilise website. This can help reunite you with your property should it be stolen.