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The number of car thefts recorded each year, which had been in steady decline since the turn of the century has increased in recent years.
Enhanced security measures, together with design improvements that make cars more difficult to start without keys, have reduced what was once an epidemic of opportunist thieves stealing cars with relative ease.
Older vehicles, in particular, were most vulnerable.
However, car thieves have adjusted their attitude recently; equipped with more sophisticated technology, expensive cars now attract their attention.
So, how do you ensure your car is safe?
Police, security experts and even former criminals all recommend a combination of technology and a physical barrier.
Here’s a rundown of five of the best ways to reduce the risk your car will be taken.
Steering wheel locks
They’ve been on the market for decades and were often the first line of defence against joyriders in the 1990s, but steering wheel locks remain an effective safeguard against car theft.
They’re generally sturdier than they were 30 years ago, and a lock that covers the entire steering wheel is more likely to put off all but the most determined thief.
Cars with steering wheel locks in place are almost impossible to drive, and having one is also a deterrent to airbag or steering wheel theft.
Airbag and steering wheel theft is an increasing problem, particularly on more expensive vehicles, because both possess considerable resale value.
However, steering wheel locks can be cumbersome, time-consuming to put on and take off again, and can be costly.
Guarding against keyless car theft
Keyless car theft, or relay car theft, involves thieves using advanced technology to bypass entry systems on so-called keyless cars.
A growing number of new vehicles are made with keyless entry systems, allowing owners to open them with the brush of a hand as long as their actual key is nearby – for example, in their pocket.
Once in the car, the driver presses a button to start the engine.
However, criminals can fool these systems with special devices, allowing them to enter the vehicle and drive away.
Relay car theft, carried out by at least two people, requires the signal from a key for a keyless entry car to be captured using specialist electronic equipment.
One criminal will stand outside your house – and only needs to be within a few metres of where the keys are stored – and another next to your car.
They both have a hand-held digital device.
The signal emitted from a key is intercepted by the device belonging to the individual positioned outside the victim’s house.
It then transmits the same signal to an accomplice standing by the vehicle with the second device.
This then relays the signal to the car.
The vehicle’s security system is tricked into thinking the key is nearby, allowing doors to be opened and – in some instances – the ignition to be started.
If your car has keyless entry and ignition, then make sure your keys are kept out of sight.
Wireless signals on some keyless fobs can be switched off. Check if that’s the case with yours.
If not, then it might be worth buying signal-blocking pouches, sometimes known as 'Faraday Bags', which are lined with a metallic material.
This prevents transmission of the signal that can be intercepted by a pair of relay devices and then used to gain access to your car.
If you push a button on your car key fob to gain entry to your car, you are not vulnerable to being “hacked” in this way.
OBD Port Lock
Instead of hot wiring, as in the past, modern criminals can start a vehicle by hijacking its onboard diagnostic (OBD) port.
These are used when your car is being serviced to provide information to a mechanic.
The regulations on OBD ports prevent manufacturers from making them difficult to access, presenting an easy target for criminals.
They can pick your car’s lock, and then plug a commercially available device into your OBD port.
This allows them to programme their own blank key.
To prevent it, you can fit a lock over the OBD port to deny access.
You can also buy electronic devices that combine with a car’s immobiliser to prevent an OBD port being used for the purpose described above.
As well as using devices that make it physically difficult for somebody to steal your car, the power of deterrence shouldn’t be underestimated.
An individual that attempts to gain access to your car can cause considerable damage, and in some cases a thwarted criminal faced with an immobiliser might revert to mindless vandalism through frustration.
Most criminals, unsurprisingly, are camera-shy.
With that in mind, installing CCTV on your property and positioning it so that your car is clearly visible in its field of view is likely to deter most intruders.
Another potential deterrent to car thieves is the installation of electric gates.
They provide security, both for your vehicles and your home,
If your driveway has no gate, or it has low gates which are left unlocked, then it's not too much trouble for a criminal to take your vehicle.
Electric gates form a physical barrier that might put off the even most determined thief.
Automatic gates are difficult to prize open without applying a significant amount of force.
Not only that, the attention it might attract makes it a risky strategy, and most car thieves would rather find an easier target.
To increase your property’s security even further, removable bollards can be installed inside your gates.
So, when it comes to car security, it’s best to deploy a variety of physical and technological options to reduce the likelihood that your cars are stolen.
Electric gates provide security and add value to your property.
As the first line of defence against car thieves, they are an excellent choice.
To find out more about how electric gates can help keep your vehicles secure, get in touch with the experienced team at Linkcare today.
Call us on 01895 232 626, or send an email to info@Linkcare.net