Vehicle crime is continuing to increase, according to the latest statistics released on 18 October by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
They showed police recorded vehicle offences in England and Wales up by 7% in the 12 months ending June 2018.
Although this continues the rising trend over the last two years, the latest increase was smaller than other annual increases seen in recent quarters – 12% increase in March 2018 and 16% increase in December 2017.
In the latest ONS figures, there were increases in both theft of a motor vehicle (up by 11% to 107,851 recorded offences) and theft from a vehicle (up 4% to 278,867 offences).
So what is the police advice on protecting your vehicle? Mark Silvester, Crime Reduction Manager, West Midlands Police, explained that despite new cars having more sophisticated anti-theft devices fitted, criminals were being increasing resourceful in accessing the latest technology to come up with more sophisticated methods to steal vehicles.
Keyless vehicle entry
For example, one of the latest trends is keyless vehicle entry where criminals arrive to steal your car equipped with a relay amplifier and relay transmitter. The amplifier is used at the front of your home to detect the signal being emitted by your vehicle’s key inside your property. If the key is within range, its signal will be detected and amplified and sent to the transmitter being held by the accomplice standing next to your vehicle. The car is tricked into thinking the key is nearby and the vehicle can be opened and driven away – all in as little as 60 seconds and virtually no noise.
Mark explained: “We are talking about electronic compromise of the vehicle’s own internal electronics. This takes various different forms. But we are seeing an increase in this type of activity. We are working with manufacturers and national law enforcement organisations to try and combat this problem.”
Check with your dealership
Ask your dealer if your vehicle, regardless of its age, has had all its recalls completed and software updated to protect your vehicle. If your vehicle is a few years old, check what latest security measures can be retrofitted to help prevent it being stolen because the cost could be less than the excess on your insurance should you make a claim.
Vehicle security devices
To protect your vehicle against keyless entry, there are special signal blocking pouches that can stop your key from transmitting its code and prevent your vehicle being stolen by this method.
Also, there are a range of physical security devices that can be purchased from motor retailers in store or online, such as steering wheel locks, wheel clamps and vehicle alarms that can deter criminals and greatly reduce the risk of your vehicle being stolen. Tracking devices too can increase the chances of your vehicle being recovered if stolen.
Extra devices do work
In one attempted theft of a burglary in Walsall in February 2018, car thieves were stopped in their tracks from using the keyless theft entry method after they saw that the vehicle had a steering wheel lock wrapped around the entire steering wheel. They simply walked away, most likely because stealing this vehicle had become too much hassle.
Check the product
Mark urged drivers to check product packaging and specification to see whether security devices have been independently tested or certified. This is important because these are the products most likely to offer effective protection and withstand physical attack.
Basic crime prevention
Of course, don’t overlook the basics. Ensure your vehicle windows are closed and your doors locked before you leave your vehicle. If you have a garage, use it, or try to park in a well-lit area. Don’t leave your vehicle keys near the inside of your front door or they could be stolen by someone ‘fishing’ through the letterbox.
Fit home security devices to provide added protection
Other security measures that could help protect your vehicle include driveway parking posts as well as CCTV and security lighting on your property. Criminals prefer to work unseen and may be deterred by such devices. Mark added: “It’s not just about protecting your car but also your home and personal safety.”
Secured by Design (SBD)
SBD, the national police crime prevention initiative, works to deter and reduce crime on behalf of the Police Service throughout the UK. The organisation, now in its 30th year, accredits security related products for vehicles and homes that meet standards required by police. To search approved products visit our website. Alternatively contact SBD as follows:
Tel: 0203 8623 999
West Midlands Police crime prevention advice:
For the latest ONS crime statistics:
(Go to 'Download as PDF')
BBC News item with Mark:
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