In 2017, over 52,000 vehicle thefts were reported in Australia (view source). Conventional wisdom tells us that to prevent your vehicle from being stolen, always choose a well-lit and busy area to park it. However, sometimes this is just unavoidable and in other cases, it doesn’t matter where you park! Car theft can even occur in your local street! So, we rounded up some of the best tips, products, and visual deterrents to help keep your car secure from thieves.
Tire Lock (Clamp)
Attached to a wheel of a car, the tire clamp is designed to restrict movement. Putting this on may seem like overkill but thieves will certainly struggle to remove it and would attract a lot of attention before getting away with their crime. This might be a good idea if you’re going to be leaving the car unattended for an extended period of time, such as a holiday or for those that work interstate or overseas. Another benefit of the tire lock is preventing illegal towing.
These are small locks that you attach to the hood of your car and once in place, will prevent thieves from stealing any expensive parts under the hood. And in the event of a front collision, these would help stop the hood from opening and hitting your windshield.
Steering Wheel Lock
Steering wheel locks prevent anyone without a key from using the steering wheel. Also, it makes thieves think it’s going to take time to remove it so they’re likely to choose an easier target. The steering wheel lock might be a pain to use, but it doesn’t take up much space and is an affordable way to protect your car.
The Coplock concept is very similar to the steering wheel lock. Coplock inventor Bob Lycoudis modified a wheel lock to use it on the clutch and brake pedals. Years later, guys from Handbrake Turn (a group of reformed outlaws) tested his invention by trying to dismantle it and failed, which helped confirm that the Coplock is a pretty good theft deterrent.
You can etch your Vehicle Identification Number on your car yourself or pay for a professional to do this. Either way, it doesn’t cost much and it’s a good deterrent for thieves. Having your VIN on your windows and other expensive parts of the car makes it difficult for the thieves to sell it and they end up choosing easier targets.
Since 2001, all new cars sold in Australia are required to have immobilisers. Probably one of the best deterrents to car theft, what they do is block the car’s fuel supply and ignition when someone attempts to start the car using the wrong key or token, which means cars can’t be ‘hot wired’ or started without the key. This means that you should also protect your keys and keep them in a safe (and somewhat hidden) place when at home.
This protects your car by shutting down its engine if the required tasks aren’t completed. These tasks are simple like, inputting codes, using a key, stepping on the gas pedal, etc. so it’s easy for the owner of the car, but not for anyone not familiar with the tasks required to get the car moving. However, keep in mind that this could affect the warranty of your vehicle so check this before installing.
Alarms come in two varieties. The first type and the one we have all probably come across before has a siren that goes off when someone attempts to force open your car or has broken your window. The other notifies you via text that someone is trying to break into your car and it gives you time to call the police. These work well with immobilisers or kill switches because the thieves can’t get very far and have probably attracted enough unwanted attention to be identified.
The device must be concealed somewhere in your car and enables you to find your car’s exact location via GPS using it. In case your car is stolen, you can help the authorities find it faster by telling them its whereabouts. This system isn’t cheap but it remains popular because it has helped many retrieve their vehicles undamaged.
Some other things you can do to help reduce the risk of theft include:
- Parking your car in a secure garage each night and keeping it off the street where possible.
- Maintaining your car – this could deter thieves if they assume you care about your car and are thus more likely to have an alarm or means of finding your car if stolen
- Even if you don’t have one, using an alarm sticker or blinking light might make thieves think twice about targeting your car.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car, especially in plain sight. This is just pure temptation for opportunistic thieves.
- Keep it locked whenever it’s unattended. A slightly more obvious tip but important none-the-less