Analysis of crime trends in Hertfordshire and country wide has shown that criminals are changing their methods to steal motor vehicles in the light of advances in vehicle electronics, on board computer and Wi Fi systems.
Here are the top ten Operation Chariot tips to help you protect your vehicle and the property within it:
- It might sound obvious, but make sure you lock the doors and shut the windows and sunroof whenever you leave your vehicle unattended.
- Always take the keys out of the ignition even if you’re just stopping to buy a newspaper, paying for fuel, or popping back into your home to get something.
- Be aware of your keys. Don’t leave them lying around, visible or in pockets in changing rooms where they could be taken. Don’t leave them visible on a window sill in your home or near to the front door, where they could be “hooked” through the letterbox.
- Never leave any valuables in your vehicle - not even in the glove-box or boot - and keep ALL other possessions out of sight. Even if you know that there is nothing valuable in your coat pocket or bag left on the back seat, a thief may try their luck.
- Remove your sat nav and its holder, and wipe away any suction marks as these could suggest to a potential thief that a sat nav is stored in your vehicle.
- Never leave vehicle documents in your car - don’t make it easy for a thief to sell your car or provide a cover story if stopped by the police.
- Use an approved steering lock or gear clamp, and remember to set your immobiliser and alarm if you have them.
- Consider buying locking screws kits to secure number plates which are targeted by criminals.
- Register your stereo, laptop, sat nav and any other property on the free online property database www.immobilise.com. It only takes a few minutes and could help police trace your property if it’s lost or stolen.
- If you advertise your vehicle for sale on an online web site, ensure that its number plates are covered over when photographed to avoid cloning of its identity.
Fit a dual band tracking device that works on VHF/UHF and GPS to ensure that one tracking system is still functioning if criminals use GPS blocking techniques to avoid detection. Purchase devices to ‘Thatcham’ and ‘SBD’ approval to combat this type of vehicle theft, as vehicles equipped with a tracking device are often promptly recovered.
Avoid a thief using your vehicle sat nav to identify your home address by inputting the post code for a significant location or landmark such as the local police station or supermarket as your home address.
- Look out for car parks with a Secured Car Park sign which have recognised levels of security. If you have a garage at home, make sure you use it and lock it properly.
- If you keep your car on the drive, you could consider having a 'dusk-till-dawn' security light fitted at the front of your house - thieves don't like to be illuminated.
- Noisy gravel on your drive can help deter a would-be thief, as they don't want to alert you to their approach.
- Always make sure your car is locked by trying the door before leaving it.
Keep vehicle keys secure
- Keys should always be kept in a safe and secure location, out of sight and away from windows or letterboxes, as sometimes vehicles are stolen after thieves managed to steal keys placed close to letter boxes or insecure windows and doors, enabling them to drive the vehicles away without having to break into them.
- Don’t leave keys visible in public places, e.g.. on tables or in bags. Don’t leave them in pockets in cloakrooms or changing rooms, as they could be taken and used to identify and steal your car from a nearby car park.
- Never hand vehicle keys over to a third party or leave the vehicle unattended at a valet parking, car wash or other parking places, where criminals can gain access to the vehicle and code a key electronically.
- If your vehicle has a keyless entry system ensure you place the vehicle tablet key in your home address, as far away from the vehicle as possible, ideally place the key in a metal box.
- Sometimes vehicles are stolen after thieves jam the remote door locking frequency by using specialist jamming equipment. They then enter the vehicle and clone a key from the On Board Diagnostic (OBD) port using specialist software. To help prevent this type of crime, consider fitting an ‘OBD safe’ device, a secure lockable device that fits over the vehicle’s on board diagnostic port, in the vehicle cabin. This prevents criminals using software to code a key from the vehicle. We recommend devices that are ‘Thatcham’ approved, “Sold Secure, or “Secured By Design.
Catalytic converter theft
Here are some steps you can take to reduce the opportunity for a criminal to steal your catalytic converter:
- Don’t park your car/van half on the pavement as it makes it easier for the thieves to get underneath it.
- If you have a diesel van or other high clearance vehicles having your catalytic converter marked, or secured can deter thieves who steal them for the precious metal components.
- Park in a garage or other secure area if possible.
- Consider property marking your catalytic converter. It is cheap and may reduce your insurance.
- A sign in your window saying your catalytic converter has been marked may well deter thieves.
You can also buy clamps to secure your catalytic converter to your vehicle and get marking kits which are an effective deterrent against catalytic converter theft.
If you have any information about catalytic converter theft please contact Hertfordshire Constabulary online or on the non-emergency 101. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Classic cars vehicle theft
In recent years the number of classic cars stolen has increased with few recovered. Do consider, in addition to fitting a tracking device, marking your vehicle and its component parts with a covert marking system such as ‘Datatag’; a Secured by Design product that provides a unique method of vehicle identification.
Help us stop vehicle crime
If you see any suspicious behaviour in your neighbourhood, please report it online or call 101, if you witness a crime in progress, call 999.
If you have any information about vehicle crime you can contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their anonymous online form. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.