In August, a thief broke into a car in Brussels, stealing, amongst other things, a laptop. The car belonged to Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo, and the laptop may have had sensitive information on it. This isn't the first time car thieves have got the better of high profile political figures and their bodyguards. While a lot of people may be left wondering how any crime could succeed with such heavy security in place, it's important to remember that a car can be stolen in under a minute (a Sat Nav in less time than that), so you only have to lower your guard momentarily for an opportunist to strike. That said, there are many little things you can do to improve your car security and reduce your risk of being a target.
Never leave valuables on display inside your car.
We know this sounds obvious, but it's so easy to forget to remove your detachable radio, or leave your briefcase in the passenger seat. Even items that just appear valuable (an empty laptop bag, for example) could cost you a new window. It's Sat Navs, though, that most people forget to put away.
Sat Nav theft is one of the fastest growing areas of crime.
Worth about £70 to a thief, it'll cost you at least that to replace it, plus the cost of damage to your car, which could even mean replacing the whole door and a hike in your insurance.
Police usually recommend trying to disguise all evidence of a Sat Nav's presence, including:
- Removing your Sat Nav whenever you leave your vehicle.
- Removing any suction-mounted fittings and rubbing away any streaks or circles they leave behind.
- Not leaving your Sat Nav in the glove box. It's the first place any thief will look.
- If your Sat Nav is particularly expensive, you may want to get it security marked (with a UV pen or marking kit).
- Parking in a well lit, busy area - a good idea generally.
Luckily, when it comes to stealing the car itself, thieves have a much harder time of it. In recent years, the technology available has dramatically raised the standard of security in cars.
It's practically impossible to steal a modern car without the keys.
It's been reported that 70% of stolen cars are taken using a stolen key, and this percentage increases as you discount older vehicles. There are lots of ways someone could steal your keys (pickpocketing, dodgy garages, etc.), but recent statistics suggest almost two in five cases involve domestic burglary. The method is simple and relatively common: thieves break into a house, steal the keys, and drive away in the victim's car - roughly 19,500 times a year in Britain, and great deal more often in countries in mainland Europe.
This kind of crime is usually planned and targeted at specific models. With these facts in mind, there are a number of ways of protecting both car and home, such as:
- Always leaving keys somewhere out of sight.
- If you have one, always parking your car in a locked garage.
- Fitting your car with a quality alarm, and your house with a burglar alarm.
- Using an immobiliser.
- Double checking you've locked and shut the doors, windows, and boot.
- If your household owns two cars, parking the cheaper vehicle so it blocks the more expensive one from being driven away.
- Making sure your windows and doors are secure (with solid, unbroken windowsills and door frames).
- Setting up a motion-activated security light outside.