Tips and Blogs

Avoid the Grinch this Christmas!

By 22nd December 2022January 3rd, 2023No Comments

According to police recorded crime data from the Home Office, there were over 360,000 vehicle crime offences in England last year. In 2021, a vehicle was stolen every 5 minutes, however, vehicle theft only accounted for 32% of vehicle crime. Statistics show more than half (56%) of all vehicle crime last year was theft from a vehicle.

As we approach the festive period, many of us will be travelling all over the country to see loved ones, however, nothing can ruin the Christmas spirit quicker than being a victim of vehicle crime – especially when you’re travelling with a car full of presents! The same goes for essential work equipment. So, to help you keep you and your vehicle safe this Christmas, we have created this list of hints and tips.

Vehicle Crime Hotspots:

As shown in the heatmap, the Metropolitan Police recorded the most vehicle crimes with more than 100,000 crimes reported. West Midlands Police came in second, despite having 70% fewer incidents with just over 30,000 crimes reported. Greater Manchester Police came closely behind to round of the top three with just over 25,000 crimes reported.

Comparatively, the safest place in the UK for your vehicle was in the City of London, with only 181 vehicle crimes reported.

How to keep your vehicle safe:

Our hints and tips can never guarantee your vehicle will be safe, but there are precautions you can take to deter thieves. We suggest the following:

Double check your vehicle is locked

Don’t simply rely on your key fob. Some thieves use ‘jammers’ to disrupt the key signal, leaving the vehicle unlocked and vulnerable to theft. It might be a hassle to check every door, but pulling the handling and double-checking is the only way to ensure the vehicle is locked.

It might be tempting to leave your vehicle running – especially when defrosting windows in winter or taking shopping into the house. However, an opportunistic thief could steal your vehicle in a matter of seconds. Switch off the engine and lock the doors.

Be sensible about where you park

If you have a garage, that’s the safest place for your vehicle. Failing that, a driveway with a gate or post will act as a deterrent. If you don’t have a driveway, don’t just park in the first space you see, try to find a place that’s well-lit and open to public view.

If you need to use a car park, try to find one that’s security patrolled, covered by CCTV, or that’s approved by Park Mark – these car parks must have passed a police risk assessment.

Hide any visible belongings

Having bags and valuables in view invites the temptation for a thief to break into your vehicle. An obvious tip, but keep your valuables hidden – or better still, not in your vehicle at all.

If you have a parcel shelf or load cover in the boot, it might be best to open or remove it, which will show would-be car thieves that there’s nothing to steal. Handbags, wallets, credit cards and shopping bags, stash them away and keep them out of sight. Remember to remove tools and other valuable equipment from your work vehicles overnight.

Keep ahead of keyless theft / ’relay attacks’

An increasing number of car thieves are using the method of ‘Keyless theft’, which involves two criminals working together using electronic signal relay devices, replicating your key fob signal, opening the doors and allowing them to drive away.

Although the signal can pass through doors, walls and windows, it cannot penetrate metal, so placing the keys inside a metal box or safe will protect your vehicle from a ‘relay attack’. Adding additional visual deterrents is a good way to avoid car theft and often enough to make a thief look for an easier option. Use a sturdy lock for the steering wheel, pedals or gearstick, and have your car’s registration number etched onto the windows.

Add an aftermarket car alarm, immobiliser or tracking device.

Most modern cars will come with a factory fitted immobiliser. This prevents the engine from being started and driven by an unrecognised vehicle key. There is a chip in the key fob that automatically deactivates the immobilizer when it is inserted into the ignition lock. However, for cars that don’t have this as standard, adding a Thatcham-approved car alarm can reduce your car insurance premium as well as the risk of car theft.

Fitting a tracking device won’t prevent a vehicle from being stolen, but it will increase the chances of it being recovered and returned by the police.

Keep your drivers safe this Christmas:

Christmas is an extremely hectic time for many business and fleet drivers – being faced with tight deadlines and multi-drop deliveries, with the addition of darker mornings and evenings. These factors can result in drivers feeling the pressure and cutting corners to keep to schedule, increasing their chance of being a victim of vehicle crime.

Fleet managers – Are you reminding your drivers of the risks and consequences of vehicle crime? Are you providing them with the training and policies to keep them moving this Christmas?

Vehicle crime results in many losses, not only monetary ones. Loss of equipment and damage to vehicles causes delays, damaged brand reputation, not forgetting the stress and emotions your drivers may face as a result.

Keep your drivers safe this Christmas.

From all of us at IAM RoadSmart, have a very merry Christmas!