Key unlocking car

Photo from Wiki Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Vehicle thefts continue to be a major issue for commercial vehicle businesses. This comes despite statistics from The Office of National Statistics showing a continuous decline in the last three decades, a RAC survey from this year of 40 police forces in England and Wales shows that over 85,000 vehicles were stolen in 2016. This is up almost 30% from numbers recorded in 2013.

As colder weather closes, unfortunately, it signals the increase in vehicle thefts. Not only does the longer nights offer more cover of darkness for thieves but also the cold weather often means that cars are being left unattended to warm up. Businesses vehicles are of particular focus as the Christmas break approaches with unused vehicles left in depots or yards. Fortunately for vehicle owners, there are a number of options that will help to deter thieves.

  1. Check It Is Locked

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. As modern vehicles feature centralised locking systems normally by a remote control on keys, check if the vehicle is indeed locked. Although you are pressing the button it doesn’t always mean that your vehicle is locking correctly, standing by your car to check that the locks have activated correctly is a quick and simple way to protect yourself.

As security technology has progressed so has the equipment that thieves are using to overcome it, while you may have pressed your key fob to lock the vehicle, did it actually lock? With remote locking, if a thief is nearby as you lock the vehicle it is possible to block the signal from reaching your car or van. Using jammers, thieves can fool owners into thinking that they have locked their car or van but instead the signal has been blocked, leaving the vehicle still open. In some cases, the jammer allows the vehicle to act like it has locked showing some of the signs of locking such as flashing lights or indicators in an attempt to fool drivers into walking away. Therefore, it is worth taking a moment to check that the locking mechanism has engaged. Most locks will make an audible clunk as they fall into place and some vehicles beep as the door bolts lock to show success. However, there are other visual cues as well, some vehicles will have their locking bolts visible on the door which can be checked to ensure that they have dropped into place. Furthermore, most alarm and locking systems have a small LED bulb on the dashboard to show that it is in operation, taking a quick look at this to ensure that it is flashing or a solid colour shows that the vehicle is locked.

  1. Take Out or Hide Your Property

While applying to personal cars this is especially important for commercial vehicles which many have tools or additional equipment stored in a van overnight, however as best as possible removing any valuable items from a vehicle reduces the temptation for opportunistic thieves. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” is very much applicable here, as if valuable items are easily seen they are equally stolen. This is especially important for commercial vehicles as tool thefts rose 30.5% between 2012 and 2016 with the majority of tools stolen from vehicles, according to insurer Simply Business.

  1. Add Additional Security

Adding additional security equipment to your vehicle not only helps to protect it from theft but also potentially offers a route for recovery if the vehicle is stolen. Installing devices such as telematics systems which use GPS location data to track the location of your vehicle in real-time allowing you to trace the vehicle in the event of a theft. While costing an additional monthly fee these systems dramatically increase recovery rates, with our internal data showing that odds are raised from under 50% to 90% with a tracking device installed.

Not all additional security is high-tech, following the increase in car thefts the RAC has reported an increase in low-tech deterrents, such as the steering wheel lock.

  1. Secure Your Keys

The technology that thieves employ is continuously improving notwithstanding the constant march of protection equipment. With the advent of keyless entry on cars there has been a trend of thieves using this technology against owners to quickly and easily unlock and start-up a car without damaging it.

In the video below, a group of thieves use a device called a relay to make the vehicle think that the keys are next to the door and unlock as well as start-up the Mercedes in under 5 minutes.

Moving your keys away from the front of the house or building can help to ensure that the relay cannot reach both the keys and the car at the same time. Additionally, placing your keys inside a metal box such as a cash tin can further help to block the signal and reduce the relay’s effectiveness.

  1. Don’t Leave Your Vehicle Unattended

As mentioned above, as the cold weather closes in many people will leave their cars or vans unlocked and idling for a time before driving to de-ice and warm the engine up, with many leaving the vehicle alone completely for “just a minute”. Unfortunately, this accounts for a large number of car thefts as leaving the engine running and key in the ignition makes it very easy to steal.

Additionally, you may find that if your vehicle is stolen while you have left it running with the keys in to go back for something your insurance will be invalidated.

If you are interested in discussing how our security solutions can help to protect your vehicles, please contact us.

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