Kwik Fit | Tuesday 23rd January 2018 10:08am
In the UK, vehicle crime accounts for more than 25 per cent of all recorded crime, meaning it is crucial that you do what you can to avoid becoming a victim of this type of behaviour. In this blog, we take a look at eight simple tips you can follow to help keep your car safe at all times.
1. Always keep it locked
Even if youíre leaving it for just a short period of time, you should always lock your car and make sure the windows are completely closed. While you might only be filling up at the petrol station and popping into the shop to pay for your fuel, that brief moment could give someone a window of opportunity to get inside your car.
It also pays to double check that your car is definitely locked. Most modern vehicles have a central locking activation system that, when you press the lock button on your fob, makes a heavy-sounding click or clunk that indicates the car is locked. Some cars also feature a visual signal, such as a short indicator flash. So, if your vehicle has these features, itís worth getting into the habit of listening or watching out for them to make sure itís securely locked.
If you use a key to manually lock your car, make sure you check that the pin on top of the internal door panel drops down or that the catch on the internal handle flips inwards towards the door.
You could also get into the habit of simply pulling on the door handle once youíve locked it, giving you the peace of mind that your vehicle is suitably secure before you walk away from it.
2. Never leave your valuables on display
It might seem obvious, but you should never leave anything valuable, like your mobile phone, wallet or bag, on display in your car. Ideally, you shouldnít keep these belongings in your vehicle at all, but if you have to, you should ensure they are completely hidden from view, such as in the boot or glove compartment. If you can help it, donít be tempted to store your stuff under the seats, in the darkness of the footwell or under an item of clothing, such as a coat, on the backseat.
When it comes to sat navs, you should make sure that you not only remove the device itself, but the cradle it sits in too. Also, ensure that you wipe away any suction marks that have been left on the window. Even if the sat nav is nowhere to be seen, these smears can give away that itís hidden somewhere in your car. Giving your windscreen a quick wipe can help to prevent someone from breaking into your car in the hope that they will find this gadget and keep it for themselves.
3. Park in the right place
If you can, it helps to park your car in a safe, secure place. For example, if you have a driveway or garage at home, you should use it. If you have to park on the street, position your vehicle somewhere thatís well-lit, such as under a streetlight. It also helps to park as close to your property as possible. For instance, you could keep it in view of a large window. If your car is clearly visible, a thief is less likely to approach it, and you can also keep an eye on it.
When youíre using a car park, try to choose one that has a barrier or an attendant present. Itís also a good idea to park near other cars. Isolating your vehicle can make it an easy target as there will not be as many people passing by, giving thieves the perfect opportunity to break into it without anyone noticing. When youíre parking in public, you may also want to pull up somewhere that has CCTV cameras in operation.
4. Donít leave your car running unattended
Even if youíre parked up on your driveway at home and you just need to pop into the house to fetch something, itís worth switching the engine off. While you may be a minute or so, an opportunistic thief only needs a few seconds to steal your car. This also applies if you are de-icing your car on an icy winter morning. If youíre going to turn your engine on to warm up your car and melt the ice away, you should remain in or near your car the entire time. In fact, did you know that leaving your car running unattended could invalidate your insurance policy? If the worst happened and your car was stolen, you may not even be entitled to a payout. So, to be on the safe side, itís a good idea to switch off the engine and lock your vehicle if you plan to walk away from it.
5. Install locking wheel nuts (but keep the key safe)
Wheel theft is also fairly common when a vehicle is left unattended especially if the vehicle is fitted with alloy wheels with a high resell value. Thankfully, nearly all new cars now come with locking wheel nuts and these can also be purchased for older cars without these. Locking wheel nuts make it much harder to steal alloy wheels as a special key is required to remove the nut. These locking wheel nut keys come in hundreds of different patterns which should be enough to deter thieves. However, it's important you keep the key safe and know where it is should you need it. If you need to change the tyre or need replacement brakes, you'll need your locking wheel nut key handy in order for the technician to take your wheel off first.
6. Get your catalytic converter marked
You carís catalytic converter substantially reduces the amount of harmful pollutants produced by your exhaust by taking these gases and converting them into water vapour and less harmful gases via a series of chemical reactions. The large honeycomb centre of a catalytic converter contains precious metals including platinum, palladium and rhodium required to speed up the chemical reaction. However, these are targeted by thieves due to their high scrap value.
The best way to protect your catalytic converter is to have it marked with a unique serial number. Marked CATs act as a deterrent to thieves and if the police find a stolen catalytic converter they will be able to trace it back to your vehicle. It neednít cost anything either as many local police forces hold regular free CAT marking events.
7. Keep your keys in a safe place
When youíre at home, make sure you keep your car keys in a safe place. Donít set them down near an external door, window or in any place they can be easily seen from the outside. Also, keep them well away from your letterbox. Some criminals see this as a chance to snatch your keys by using a long, hooked wire contraption. Instead, put your keys in a drawer or cupboard so that they are out of sight.
8. Install a tracking device
As an extra security measure, you could install a tracking device in your car. This technology allows you to monitor the location of your vehicle. So, if it was stolen, you would be alerted immediately. Usually, tracking devices come in the form of small, discreet black boxes which can be connected up to an app on your phone or tablet.
You might rely on your car to help you get from A to B every day, so imagine the inconvenience it would cause if something happened to it. To reduce your chances of experiencing a car-related catastrophe, it pays to keep these safety tips in mind.
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