The vast majority of car drivers have fallen victim to some sort of vehicle crime, or will do, in their lifetime. Statistics suggest that between February and March this year, vehicle crime increased by an alarming 13% in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. With thieves constantly finding new ways to commit car crime, it is important to protect your car and your contents more than ever.
For most, our cars are one of our most prized possessions, whether it’s the car itself or the valuables within it. Sadly, we’re not the only ones who deem our cars as a prized possession as thieves are targeting vehicles across the country and committing a number of car offences. Most vehicle crime is preventable and acting carelessly can cost you.
Official figures from UKCrimeStats
reveal that over a one month period this year, vehicle crime has been on the up. In February, 34,463 incidents were recorded by the police for England and Wales, and a further 4,754 were reported the following month. This was a similar story in Northern Ireland where there were 380 recorded offences in March, an increase of 44 from February (336).
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Different types of vehicle crime
Vehicle crime is largely unspoken of in the media. There are 5 different specified types of vehicle crime offences.
1. Aggravated vehicle taking
2. Theft from a motor vehicle
3. Theft from a vehicle (other than a motor vehicle)
4. Theft of a motor vehicle
5. Interference with a motor vehicle
6 simple steps
Research suggests that it can take as little as 10 seconds for a thief to steal something from your car, so the best way to protect your belongings is to lock your car whenever you leave it. Following these six simple steps can help to reduce vehicle crime as a whole, and ensure that you don’t have to go through the distress of being a victim of crime.
1. Always lock your car
Whether you are going to your boot, popping back into your house or putting fuel in your car, you should always remove your keys from the ignition when you step outside the driver’s seat. Get into the habit of locking your vehicle, even if you’re going to be away from the car for a few minutes. Lock it and then check – you can never be too sure.
2. Close the sun roof and windows
When it’s warm outside, it’s easy to forget to close your windows and sunroof, but leaving them open leaves you susceptible to ‘fishing’. It is common practice for thieves to ‘fish’ for items through gaps in the window or roof of your car. Don’t give them the opportunity and ensure all areas and shut tight.
3. Remove it or hide it
Make sure that all valuable items are removed from the car when you leave it – such as your mobile phone, sunglasses and money – or stashed away under the car seat or glove compartment, so they are out of sight for criminals to be tempted. Removable stereos and satellite navigation systems should never be left unattended in a vehicle as they are irresistible to a thief.
4. Secure your number plates
In addition, roof-racks and tailgate racks are easily stolen when a vehicle is idle. To reduce this from being stolen, use cable locks, padlocks and self-locking tools which are secured to the vehicle, making them more secure.
5. Secure anything on the outside of your vehicle
The easiest way to change the identity of a stolen vehicle and avoid getting parking or speeding tickets is to install stolen number plates. Make this practically impossible for thieves by using security screws to secure your number plate into place.
6. Park in well-lit and busy areas
Breaking into a vehicle to steal valuables or the car itself takes less than a minute, so reduce your chances of this happening by parking in well-lit areas and busy streets. Thieves will steer clear and think twice about breaking the law if they are likely to be seen.
In addition, where you park can make a big difference to the safety of your car and your belongings. When finding somewhere to park, look out for car parks that are approved by the police Safer Parking scheme. You can find them by looking out for their distinctive blue ‘Park Mark’ signs.