Car theft is ‘rising very steeply’ with worst yet to come
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The AA is warning that car thefts could increase this year following data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that stolen vehicles had increased by 29 percent between September 2021 and September 2022. As the cost of living crisis deepens, more people are tempted into criminal activities to make ends meet with car crime near the top of illegal activity.
While older cars are vulnerable to being taken by old school “smash and grab” techniques, most thieves have gone hi-tech to take advantage of vehicles with keyless entry.
To beat the bandits, AA Insurance Services have released a list of “dos and don’ts” to help drivers keep hold of their cars and stave off potential attacks.
The first, and potentially most important, is for drivers to invest in vehicle security.
Items such as crooklocks and disc locks are relatively cheap and easy to use but are a great deterrent as thieves will often just move on to the next target.
Wheel clamps that lock around the vehicle wheels and a pedal box over the foot pedals are also very effective.
For vehicles with keyless entry, buy and use some faraday pouches (for both the main and spare key).
Another key check that drivers can ensure they do every time is to make sure the car is locked before walking away, even if it may seem obvious.
Some thieves use signal blockers to jam the signal between key and car. Just because a driver pressed the lock button doesn’t mean it is, so double-checking is always best.
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The AA also recommends that drivers check if their key can be “put to sleep” when it is not being used.
This is possible with most manufacturers, via the infotainment screen or with a combination of key fob button presses.
The owner’s manual or vehicle dealer should be able to guide motorists through how to turn the keyless system off.
Gus Park, managing director of AA Insurance Services, 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.
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“There are many steps people can take to protect their car and there are many security measures and products to meet every budget.
“For example, using a crook lock makes a massive difference, as it will often cause the thief to move on to the next easier target rather than taking the time and trouble to break into the car and remove it.
“If you have a car with keyless entry, putting the spare key to sleep when not in use, de-activating the keyless entry or using a Faraday pouch can make a big difference in keeping relay theft at bay.”
The “don’ts” for drivers are also vital, with the AA urging drivers to not leave their keys out in the open, suggesting to use a Faraday pouch or putting them to sleep.
Drivers also shouldn’t assume that the immobiliser or tracking device fitted by the manufacturer is sufficient to protect their car.
Thieves can often override the immobiliser and find the tracking device. Consider buying an additional electronic immobiliser or an after-market tracking device to provide a second layer of protection.
When it comes to garages, it is often the best place to park their car as it is “out of sight, out of mind” for criminals.
If they don’t have a garage, they consider fitting a lockable post in the driveway/parking bay to stop their car from being driven away.
While theft from vehicles tends to be opportunistic, the theft of vehicles tends to be planned. These are often shipped abroad, cut up for parts or sold to order.
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