AA says drivers can protect cars from theft using crooklocks and Faraday pouches as criminals combat keyless technology
Car theft is on the rise, warns the AA, which fears that as the cost of living crisis deepens more people will be tempted into criminal activity to make ends meet.
Instances of stolen vehicles have leapt by 29 per cent in 12 months according to ONS data and while older cars are vulnerable to being snatched using old school 'smash and grab' techniques, the AA says many thieves are also now learning how to take advantage of those with advanced technology or keyless entry systems.
While the theft of items from vehicles mostly tends to be opportunistic, say motoring experts, stealing vehicles themselves is often planned - with more lucrative cars sold to order and others shipped abroad or traded for parts.
In the last year, according to police records, 123,182 reports were received of a vehicle being taken without consent up from 95,554 the year before and more than the 123, 182 cases recorded in the year prior to the start of the pandemic in 2020.
And with expectations that thefts of and from vehicles may rise as increasing numbers of people struggle for money, the AA has compiled a list of things it suggests drivers do now to help secure their cars.
Gus Park, managing director of AA Insurance Services, said regardless of a car's make or model there is plenty drivers can and should do regardless of budget.
He said: "Vehicle theft is rising very steeply, and we are worried that more cars will be taken this year as gangs continue to attack innocent drivers in by taking their prized possessions. There are many steps people can take to protect their car and there are many security measures and products to meet every budget."
AA advice includes:
1. Invest in vehicle security
Items such as crook locks and disc locks, says the AA, are relatively cheap and easy to use but can act as a great deterrent as thieves who spot them will often just move on to the next target without even being tempted. Wheel clamps that lock around the vehicle wheels and a pedal box over the foot pedals are also very effective it adds.
Motorists who own vehicles with keyless entry systems should buy and ensure they religiously use Faraday pouches – for both the main and spare key – to protect thieves from intercepting the remote technology.
2. Check your car is actually locked
It sounds straightforward but the quickest and easiest things drivers should do and costs nothing is to double check their vehicle has indeed been locked securely.
Some thieves, says the AA, now use signal blockers to jam the signal between a key and its car so just because you’ve pressed the lock button it might not necessarily mean it as been secured so double-checking is best before walking away.
3. Can you car key be put to sleep?
The AA suggests drivers do investigate whether their car key can be 'put to sleep' when not being used.
This is possible with most manufacturers, says the breakdown service, via the infotainment screen or with a combination of key fob button presses in a specific order. The owner’s manual or vehicle dealer should be able to guide you through how to turn the keyless system off, which would add an additional layer of security to a vehicle when parked up and not in use.
4. Don't assume an immobiliser is sufficient
Drivers should never assume that their car's immobiliser or any tracking device fitted by the manufacturer would be sufficient to protect a car, warns the AA.
Thieves, it said, can often over ride immobilisers installed as standard and are learning to find manufacturer tracking devices with experience. It advises buying an additional electronic immobiliser and/or tracking device to provide a second layer of protection for your vehicle.
5. Don't overpack a garage
A garage if households have one, says the AA, is the best place to park and secure a car as it immediately then becomes a case of 'out of sight out of mind' for criminals and so households should attempt to store items in a way that leaves room for their vehicle.
For households which don't have a garage but might have a driveway, separate parking courtyard or parking bay, the advice is to consider fitting a lockable post on the allocated space that would prevent a car being driven away and would also dissuade thieves from targeting it in the first place.