Perhaps one day we’ll live in a world where balaclava-clad hoodlums approach driveways for no other reason than to inform car owners that their lights are still on. Until then, to protect your peace of mind and your wallet, we recommend investing in some car security measures.
A car is the second most valuable thing you’re likely to own in your lifetime. They take care and financial investment to keep on the road, and many of us form an emotional attachment to them. Van driver? Check out our advice on how to keep your van safe.
Car security needn’t be expensive, but a few extras can go a long way to bolstering your car’s safety. On this page, we’ll go over which security measures are available for both cars and garages, how you can best protect your car at night and some other tips for keeping your car safe.
There are many effective car security products worth checking out that won’t break the bank. When considering which product is right for you, think about where and how your car might be vulnerable.
For example, if your car features a keyless entry system, you can protect the key fob from emitting signals that could be hijacked. If you keep your car in a garage at night, you may want to consider reinforcing the door locks or investing in some security cameras.
Here are a few products that we think you should check out:
Great for cars with keyless entry systems
Keyless entry systems are convenient but they can leave cars vulnerable to theft when parked at home. Armed with a signal amplifier and transmitter, two strategically placed thieves can replicate the signal emitted from the keyless entry fob inside a house then amplify it to connect with the car.
Without touching the key, the thieves could have unlocked the car and scarpered within a matter of minutes. Faraday pouches are small key fob containers with a metal lining that block the fob’s signal. Without that signal, the thieves’ devices won’t be able to locate the fob.
They’re simple, affordable and can be very effective bits of car security tech. If your car has keyless entry, we highly recommend getting a Faraday pouch or Faraday box.
In the unfortunate event that someone successfully makes off with your car, a car tracker allows both you and the police to monitor its movements. That makes it much easier to track the car down and get it back.
Trackers use GPS or Very High Frequency (VHF) technology to monitor cars, the latter providing a more reliable service as it can follow signals from underground or a shipping container.
Basic trackers cost around £30 while the more advanced (and expensive) ones can set you back several hundred pounds. The top models can be worth the extra, though, as they usually offer 24-hour tracking that extends to mainland Europe.
A wheel lock may be something of a throwback, a relic from the days when you could break into a car with a spoon, but the rise of keyless car thefts means they’ve once again found their place on the market. As car theft has gone high tech, this low tech device can provide a last line of defence.
Just the sight of a wheel lock can deter a would-be thief from attempting to steal your car, and it could grant you some time to catch them in the act. They’re particularly useful in older cars with basic security systems.
Wheel clamps are another antiquated throwback to a bygone era, but they’re still an effective deterrent. They come in different sizes to fit most wheels, there are ones that are quick and easy to fit and more complicated ones that even a determined thief wouldn’t bother trying to break open.
They’re particularly popular among owners of motorhomes and caravans, as they can sit on a drive for months at a time, making them vulnerable to theft.
Before buying, check that your chosen clamp will fit onto your vehicle’s wheels as one size does not fit all. For the best protection, make sure you pick a clamp that has a wheel nut cover, lest any thieves just remove the wheel the clamp is attached to before making off.
If you keep your car in a garage or on an enclosed driveway at night, it’s already safer than it would be on the street. However, your car still isn’t entirely safe from theft or damage. Any determined thief can make light work of a basic garage security system, so maximise the deterrence by investing in some additional measures.
Start by fitting a reinforced garage door lock. Most standard locks are easily surmounted, offering little more than a light deterrent. Even a padlock won’t do much more than delay a thief. A wide range of more secure garage door locks are available. They’re made from stronger materials and have more intricate mechanisms that are difficult to get around. Whilst you’re at it, you could also have an alarm fitted.
Home CCTV systems
No matter how many security measures are in place, some thieves may still be able to get through. At which point you ideally need to be able to see them. A CCTV system allows you to do that; get one that connects to a phone app and you can keep an eye on your garage from anywhere in the world.
There are plenty of CCTV cameras that just stick on to the wall and are cheap to buy and easy to install. But the best ones are wired up to a little control centre that allows you to monitor the camera feed in real time and record/download the footage. That way, you have evidence that could lead to the conviction of any thieves. The better the footage, the better chance you’ll have of spotting who’s who, so opt for 4K quality if you can.
Solar security lights
Exterior lighting is a necessary expense to ensure crooks can be correctly identified on home CCTV footage and they can be effective deterrent in themselves. However, keeping conventional lights on all night can become very expensive for you and annoying for the neighbours, so invest in a set of solar security lights instead.
They’re battery-powered, the batteries being charged by a solar panel. The lights are connected to a motion sensor and only come on when someone comes within range of the sensor.
What should I do if my garage or car is being broken into?
If a break-in is in progress, dial 999. Do not try to apprehend the perpetrators yourself as you may end up getting injured or landing yourself in trouble. Instead, call the police immediately and leave it to the professionals.
If you return home to find that your car has been stolen or your garage raided, dial 101 for the non-emergency response line.
What should I do if I find my car has been broken into?
If you return to your car to find it has been broken into via a smashed window, don’t panic.
• Photograph the break-in site along with any other evidence you can find. This will provide valuable evidence if the culprits are brought to trial. If possible, put gloves on before touching the car so you don’t erase any fingerprints left by the perpetrators.
• Next, call the police on the non-emergency helpline, 101. Inform the police of what has happened, and itemise anything that’s been taken from the car. You may be issued with a crime number to report to your insurer. Have your driving licence and insurance information to hand as the police may ask for it.
• Once you’ve called the police, contact your insurance company and let them know what’s happened. They’ll ask for the crime number so they can corroborate your report. You might be able to file a claim, but even if your excess exceeds the price of the fix, you must let your insurer know.
• Finish by creating a temporary window cover to prevent water leaking into the car. Remove any broken glass with a vacuum cleaner then wrap a thick cloth or towel around your hands to push away any glass still in the window frame.
• For a front window, cut out a clear plastic cover to shape then tape it to the outside of your window frame. Rear window covers don’t need to be see-through. Call a garage, dealership or window replacement service as soon as possible to have it fixed professionally.
What should I do if my car has been stolen?
If your car has been stolen, dial 101 and ask to be put through to your local police station. They’ll ask you for your vehicle’s registration number, make, model and colour. Once you’ve made your report, you’ll be issued with a crime number that you should give to your insurer when you inform them of the theft.
To read more on car theft, check out the government advice page on what to do if your car has been stolen.