Your car is an object of desire. That goes without saying, why else would you have bought it? But the problem is it’s not just an object of desire for you. Whether it’s the car itself or the valuables within it, your car is as much a target for thieves as it ever was. Here are some tips how to limit a thief’s opportunity.
Very important to keep in mind:
- While there are certain cars that are targeted for their luxury, others are targeted for their popularity. These vehicles are VW (GTI and TDI being the most popular followed by the Polo), Toyota (Hilux, Fortuner and Quantum being the most popular) and then manufacturers like Ford, Nissan and Land Rover;
- Theft of goods from your vehicle is not because of the vehicle but the visibility of goods and ease of the theft. Be sure to know your vehicles security systems;
- Your insurance company may cover losses but only if all their measures have been met. They give a minimum requirement for security on your vehicle, but it does not mean that if you only meet the minimum, they will accept the claim. The more security the better your chances of a payout. (Note they will pay what the vehicle was worth when it was first registered minus depreciation).
Highly recommended security measures:
- Car alarm: Most alarms are linked to car doors and will sound if a door is opened. They can be rated in 2 ways:
- Aftermarket systems that you fit at a dealer which will have a VESA (Motor Vehicle Safety Association of South Africa) which grades alarms based on their complexity and efficiency.
- Systems that are fitted by a manufacturer which are rated by SAIAS (SA Independent Accreditation Services on the VSS (Vehicle Security Systems) scale. These ratings are available to vehicle manufacturers, insurers and the police.
- Motion sensors: Normally linked to the alarm if it senses any movement inside a locked car. This is very helpful in case a window is broken and theft occurs from a parked vehicle without opening any doors. Ask your dealer if your vehicle is fitted with these sensors as not all are, even if a similar vehicle has it installed.
- Safety film: Also called Smash and Grab protection and most often fitted as an optional extra. It is a thin, translucent film fitted to the side of windows making it harder to break.
- Vehicle tracking systems: Most will only engage if the vehicle is moving and presumed stolen. Some may have a level of complexity that can even detect attempted theft. Ask your insurer which system they prefer and ask for a discount on your premium. Also speak to your dealer and make sure it does not affect your warranty.
If a thief steals it will be for 1 of 2 reasons. Either because of an order or opportunity. Here are some tips to limit their opportunity:
- Be vigilant: Thieves are more careful if they see you looking around and being aware;
- Secure your vehicle: Check that all the doors and windows are locked, even if you are parked at your house behind a gate or while driving;
- Park wisely: Thieves will be deterred if they must reverse or make multiple maneuvers to get out of the parking (tip turn your wheel into the curb);
- Park safely: Somewhere there is lots of movement/ traffic, bright lighting and a secure possible spot (if possible, opt for paid parking rather than on a dark quiet street);
- If a traffic light is red for you, stop and look around if it is empty then slowly drive on because otherwise you are a sitting duck;
- If there are strange people or vehicles at your house drive on as they might be thieves who will try to overpower you;
- Install motion sensing lights by your parking area so it is bright and everything is visible when you are pulling in/out of your driveway in the evening;
- Keep track of your keys: Do NOT keep a spare key in your vehicle as thieves have long caught on to this trick;
- Don’t keep your vehicle running while you are not inside it: It is the easiest and quickest way it can be stolen, not even it is in your driveway to grab something inside;
- Don’t keep any valuables visibly inside your vehicle, even the suction mark of the GPS system on the window is an indicator that you have valuables;
- Use a physical anti-theft device: This would be something like a steering wheel lock bar, kill switch, or a brake lock;
- Do not keep valuables on the seat, put it on the floor (closed and almost under the seat with windows closed) or in the boot when you are driving.