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Car theft WARNING: simple safety errors putting you at risk of having your vehicle stolen

car theft

Motorists are making simple errors which could compromise car safety (Image: GETTY)

British drivers could be putting themselves at risk of having their car stolen by making a number of mistakes. According to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the by nine per cent in 2018, compared to the previous year. There were a total of 113,037 offences of “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle” logged by authorities. As a result, drivers are encouraged to be vigilant in protecting their vehicle to avoid running into problems. New research from Halfords found that drivers are negotiating to take simple safety steps to deter criminals. Keyless entry car theft is perhaps the most prolific type of theft taking place in Britain at the moment.

This type of crime sees a pair of transmitters are used to ‘trick’ the vehicle into thinking the key is near to the vehicle by intercepting the signal allowing criminals to break in enter and start the car with ease.

Despite the wide reporting of this type of offence only five per cent of drivers hide their fobs in a RFID wallet, a simple precaution which can stop gangs from intercepting the signal from their keyless entry system.

Despite this simple safety precaution almost a quarter of motorists (23 per cent) still think leaving their key fobs out on worktops is fine. 

Halfords has reported sales increases for these of 400 per cent over the last four weeks.

Pavan Sondhi, Halfords’ car security expert says: “New in-car security systems can only do so much to prevent a car being stolen.

“From our research it seems that many anti-theft systems can be easily bypassed and using a simple device like an RFID wallet can prevent your fob being hacked for a small amount of money.

“We’ve seen sales of these soar by four times in the last few weeks, while classic old school steel steering locks also remain an extremely effective – and visual – way of deterring thieves, and we’ve recently seen a huge increase in sales of these too.

“You should park your car in a garage with an alarm system and CCTV or you can make sure the area around your car or garage is well lit.”

Drivers are making basic safety mistakes that could be allowing other types of theft and access into a car.

keyless entry car keys

Keyless entry car theft is becoming more popular (Image: GETTY)

The research found that 43 per cent not bothering to check the door handle to make sure their vehicle is locked before walking away, 42 per cent leaving their ownership documents in the car, and 43% not bothering to hide their car keys once they’re in the house.

Security expert Michael Fraser says: “Car theft is usually an opportunistic crime. Thieves are looking to take advantage of any obvious weakness in your car’s security.

“Anything you can do to secure your car, and make it less vulnerable to theft is a really good thing.” 

Michael Fraser advises motorists to on the common mistakes that could be making their cars a target for thieves:

Don’t rely on your car’s security system however new it is:

“If you have bought a new car, you might think it comes with a security system which will protect your car but many motors are quite vulnerable to theft; using a visual deterrent like a steering wheel lock which looks like a big strong dustbin lid that covers your entire steering wheel will put them off.” 

Consider how you park your car:

“Most people straighten up their wheels when parking, making it easy for thieves to drive away quickly.

“By parking your car with the wheels turned into the kerb, thieves will have to make more manoeuvres to drive off. Parking in a row of cars or facing a wall will also deter criminals.”

car theft

Drivers are failing to make basic safety check (Image: GETTY)

Consider where you leave your key fob:

“Many car owners believe that locking their keys in a drawer or placing them out of sight in a secure home is enough to protect their vehicles but criminals can use devices that rely the signal from keys and unlock devices remotely. Keep your keys at least 20m away from any doors, criminals can’t pick up a signal. You can also use an RFID Wallets which provide a casing for your keys.” 

Don’t have a messy car:

“One of the biggest mistakes that car owners make is leaving rubbish and mess lying around. When a criminal walks past they will see this as an opportunity to find something valuable. Keeping valuables out of sight and tidying away any rubbish is an effective way to deter criminals.

Use a dash cam with a surveillance mode:

“Use a dash cam that has a surveillance mode. All dash cams are designed to record your drive, but did you know there are some dashboard cameras that can also monitor your car when you are not there. It is a very useful feature to guard against any would-be thieves or if you are worried about any potential vandalism on your car.”

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