Follow these tips to keep your vehicle and valuables safe from opportunist thieves
Vehicle crime accounts for more than a quarter of all recorded crime in the UK and costs the taxpayer more than £3billion a year.
Most vehicle criminals are opportunists. By following the tips below you can outsmart thieves and limit their opportunities to steal your valuables or vehicle.
Here you will also find information and advice on:
- Securing your bicycle
- Securing your motorbike or moped
- Trucks and commercial vehicles
- Beauty spot car parks
Hints and tips for protecting your vehicles and valuables
Thefts from vehicles
- Don't leave anything in your car - if it's not there, then it can't be stolen.
- Choose a stereo that can be removed and make sure you take it with you! You should also mark it with your registration number or postcode, in case it's stolen.
- Thieves aren't picky, so don't leave even low-value items in your car. Often thieves will smash and grab first and look later to see if what they've stolen is valuable.
- Don't hide it - if you hide items under the seat or in the glove box, chances are someone will have watched you. If you cannot avoid leaving something in your car, put it in your boot before you begin your journey.
- Don't leave valuables in your car even for a minute - it only takes a thief a few seconds to smash a window and get what they want, so don't take the chance.
- Your car isn't safe to be left unlocked on your driveway - nearly half of all incidents where items are stolen from cars happen when they are parked overnight, close to the owner's home.
- Don't leave your house keys or anything with your address on it in your vehicle - someone could steal your keys and then let themselves into your home.
- If it's portable, take the sat nav with you together with the support cradle and suction pads.
- Wipe away any marks left by the suction pads as thieves will look out for these.
- Don't leave your equipment in the glove compartment - thieves usually check here first.
- Always secure your car.
- Always lock your car and wind your windows up, even if you are just posting a letter or going into a petrol station.
- If you are stationary in traffic, keep your doors locked and don't wind your windows too far down - someone could reach in and try to grab something off your passenger seat.
- Use a steering wheel lock every time you leave your car - it makes life more difficult for the thief and therefore your car a less tempting target.
- Get a car alarm - they not only deter a thief from stealing the car, but also from stealing items from inside it. Have it fitted by a professional.
- Immobilisers stop the engine from starting if the car is being stolen and they are the best way to stop thieves. Having an immobiliser is a good idea if you have an expensive car, and it might help to reduce your insurance premiums.
- If you are parking on the street, make sure it is a well-lit residential area in public view.
- If you are parking in a car park, try not to park close to anything that obscures your vehicle from public view - such as a high-sided vehicle or large bottle bank.
- Look out for car parks that display the Park Mark logo - this means they have been designed with security in mind and have features such as good lighting and CCTV.
- Try not to advertise how long you will be away from your vehicle. For example, if you're going to a football match don't leave your team scarf on show because it's obvious you'll be gone for the duration of the game.
- If you've got a garage, use it and lock it - your vehicle is 40 times less likely to be broken into if it is in a locked garage.
- Immobilise your caravan even when you only stop briefly.
- Have a reliable alarm fitted and switch it on whenever you leave your caravan, even if only for a few minutes.
- At home, always keep caravan keys in a safe place out of sight from windows and doors and take valuables with you when you leave the vehicle.
- When your caravan is not in use, leave curtains and cupboard doors open - thieves can be put off by a caravan that is obviously empty.
- Write your vehicle identification number (VIN) in several hidden places within the caravan. Use a permanent marker to write the VIN on the underside of drawers, in cupboards and on wooden surfaces. Etch the VIN on to the windows using an ultraviolet pen. This makes the caravan easy to identify if it's stolen.
- Lock the caravan coupling head into a cover using a good quality hitch lock. Fit lockable wheel nuts.
- Always lock all doors and windows every time you leave your caravan. Always lock your roof light and gas compartment as well.
- Never leave personal or valuable items on display inside the caravan. Consider forensic and security marking your personal items.
- Immobilise your caravan using an approved lock. Put the immobiliser on when the caravan is parked, and when you stop for short periods.
- Use good quality, heavy-duty chains and hitch locks to secure your caravan.
- Fix lock nuts or wheel clamps to the wheels. Padlock gas cylinders to fixing clamps.
- Never leave vehicle registration documents inside the caravan. They can help a thief to sell the caravan.
- Fit a tracking device. Police will be able to track your caravan if it is stolen.
Vehicle index plates are often stolen to be used in other crimes, such as theft of fuel from forecourts (bilking), avoidance of congestion charges and parking fines, vehicle cloning and even burglary.
If index plate thefts are not reported, you may receive a summons for unpaid parking or a speeding ticket, or you may even be questioned by police in connection with more serious crimes.
The following advice can assist you in reducing the likelihood of your index plates being stolen:
- Park your car in a garage at night or park in such a way as to prevent access to either the front or rear number plate.
- Park in a safe public car park.
- If parking on a public road, park in a well-lit spot.
- Use theft-resistant number plates, which are designed to break apart if they are forcibly removed from a vehicle.
- Fit security screws. Simple anti-theft devices can be easily fitted with a screwdriver in place of existing screws, but cannot be removed using standard tools.